Hearing voices

In a futile attempt to be efficient, I’ve been reading In Cold Blood in book form and listening to the audiobook. The audio format lets me use my drive time more or less productively. Unfortunately it’s not indexed in a way that makes it easy to pick reading where the audio left off, and vice versa.

Listening to an audiobook is a different experience from reading, largely because there’s an extra layer of interpretation. So it gives you something more than the printed version, but also takes away some of your freedom of interpretation. The voice actor reading the book decides the rhythm and the emphasis, and may throw in vocal characterization. Capote describes Perry Smith as having a soft and lispy voice, but that doesn’t really come through in the audio version.

But I love this scene between the detective and Perry’s former landlady:

There’s a level of personality in that reading that I probably wouldn’t have taken from the text. I wouldn’t have read [pause] “uh-huh” [pause] the same way. But the pacing is a big part of that.

Here’s an earlier scene where Dick’s mother tells a detective about Perry:

Perfume and oily hair make me think salesman rather than ex-con, but the Hickocks come from a different place and time than me. Again, I don’t think the rhythm or emphasis are the way I would have heard it in my head. Capote puts some dialect in people’s speech, like when Dick says he’s “a normal” instead of just “normal,” but the reader here, Scott Brick, adds accents and speech patterns that bring the characters further to life.

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