Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


A Tale Meant to Be Told

Review from AudioFile: This full-cast performance of the tenth anniversary edition of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS (think director’s cut) is one of the most mesmerizing audio experiences ever. . . .

Hmmm . . . I may have to consider purchasing this audiobook at some point, the review makes it sound so good.  And the full review is at the bottom of this post.  But before that, to fully understand both why I might purchase it and why not until later, a little background.

I spent my first seven years in Virginia, where my parents directed a church camp each summer.  So I grew up being outdoorsy, hiking in the mountains and the like.  Then we moved back to their hometown in Kansas, and the nearest mountains were in Colorado.  So we ended up taking lots of family vacations to the Rockies, particularly the Pike's Peak area where there was another church camp.  I also attended camp there as a teenager.  It was a very formative and important area for me.

It was maybe eight years ago I had some extra vacation time that my at-the-time-spouse didn't, that I used the week of Thanksgiving.  The mountains weren't her thing in general and she found she was highly susceptible to altitude sickness when she tried, so I hadn't taken a proper vacation back to Colorado as an adult.  I decided I'd make a solo journey with my vacation to visit the old hiking trails.

Well, not entirely solo, since I took my good pal Duncan.  He was excellent company, but not always the most engaging conversation.  I found a cheap cabin to stay in and packed up a case of Ramen noodles, a bunch of canned tuna, and other preserved food that would be easy to transport.  The cabin would have a TV, but there wouldn't be much else in the area for us to do besides hike, watch TV, and read.  The first snow of the year for that area fell after our first day, and the car wouldn't start the next morning, Thanksgiving.  We had to wait another day for a tow and a shop to be open to get it running, so there was improvised hiking around the cabin instead of the old trails, with their trailheads a good ten to fifteen miles away.  When we finally ventured back to them on our fourth and final day, they were harder to find and slower going because of the snow covering.  It wasn't quite the trip I had envisioned, but it was an enjoyable and memorable experience.  For all I could tell (the snow helped with that), I was the only person for miles around for most of my hiking.  It was a good trip, but one in which I felt very isolated and alone.

It was on that trip that I had my first experience with American Gods, the book I've since called my favorite (or the closest thing I have to one with so many other books that I also love).  I had read all of Neil Gaiman's Sandman books and many of his other comics and graphic novels, but this was my first foray into his prose.  Our car at the time had a brand new radio with a CD player, but not a cassette player.  My library only owned the audiobook on cassette, not CD.  But it was the book I wanted to listen to while I drove, so I dug out an old Walkman we had in a box somewhere.  After changing the batteries and tinkering with some other things while driving, I had to accept the fact that the player was just a bit too weak for the extra long tapes and I was going to have to listen to the book at a slightly slower speed than it should have been.  The reader's voice was extra deep aaanndd jjuusstt aaa bbiiitt sslloooww.  I kept listening anyway, because I was immediately sucked in.  I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I spent some of my downtime in the cabin lying on the bed listening and I didn't have enough book left to last the entire drive back as planned.

That was obviously not a normal listening experience, what with the adventure and isolation heightening my experience of everything I interacted with, so two to three years ago I decided I should listen to the book again to see if I could still count it as a favorite.  It held up to everyday listening.

Now I am finally reading the book for the first time, but once again it's not a normal reading experience.  Sometime early in our relationship, the person I married less than a year ago asked me to start reading her to sleep.  She picked out her favorite book for me to read, Jane Eyre.  Our progress was very slow, as some nights we'd only make two or three pages before sleep hit, and it took us months and months to finish.  Recently I received a small bonus at work and decided for my birthday I'd treat myself to the new, Tenth Anniversary Edition of American Gods with Gaiman's preferred text, adding back in bits that were edited out for length in the original publication.  When we finally finished reading her favorite book in bed, I decided we should start mine.  So I'm currently in the middle of reading this book, but I'm reading it out loud and sharing the listening experience with my wife.

So I figure someday I might have to purchase the new audio version of the Tenth Anniversary Edition simply because the review makes it sound so good, but I don't feel any need to rush into it.  And when I do, it will make my fourth audio experience with the book, without a single silent reading in the mix.  And that's okay, since Gaiman is a master storyteller, and masterful stories are best told, not just read.

Here's the full AudioFile review:

This full-cast performance of the tenth anniversary edition of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS (think director’s cut) is one of the most mesmerizing audio experiences ever. Suppose all the gods and demons, trolls and imps that were ever carried here in imagination are still all around us, pumping gas, playing shell games, running funeral homes, and plotting war against our new gods of media and technology. Ron McLarty plays a randy, crusty old Odin disguised as a white-collar con man to perfection. Daniel Oreskes’s Shadow, the hero who doesn’t know quite what he is, is masterful. Oliver Wyman, who did Mad Sweeney the Leprechaun, is a genius. Hats in the air for the whole cast, a flawless production, and a tour de force of a tale. B.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2012 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine [Published: JULY 2011]


At 12/26/2012 4:53 PM, Blogger Degolar said...

Huh. Just noticed the date I posted this. Reminds me of the question I asked on Facebook: "If a dozen dozen is a gross, what's a dozen dozen dozen?"

I think I've found my topic for my next post, I just need to let it simmer for a bit to see how it develops.


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