Thursday, August 21, 2008


The Christmas before last, in 2006, My mom got me, at my urging, the box set of the first three volumes of Edward Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: the Everyman edition, in hardcover. Though I started reading it that very day, it was an off and on affair, and I just finished it today. Yay! I have read the first three volumes (out of six) of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire!

Or did I? See, after finishing reading the book, I wanted to know what happened next. So after checking out a used book store, I went to the Library and checked out the lamentably abridged version of the whole work, and I was suprised to find that this volume includes chapters 36 and 37 as part of Volume III. But my Everyman edition ends on chapter 35! So, did I miss out on two chapters? Did Everyman gyp me? If so, for shame, Everyman! On the other hand, maybe there is no clear consensus on the division between the Volumes. So now I have the abirdged version checked out, which does not excite me the way the unabirged version does. It seems to basically just be Gibbon, and it's nice that it interposes the dates of events that happen, something that Gibbon doesn't actually bother to do, so you have to keep checking the table of contents or just allowing events to floating in an etherous solution of possible years. But it baiscailly condenses by just leaving huge chunks of texts out, and I see the brackets denoting the omissions and think, I would like to read that! The Everyman edition is selling for 45 dollars or so on Amazon, which is kind of a pretty penny. But it's just hard to work myself up over an abridgement.

On the other hand, at the used bookstore I splurged and spent 17 bucks on four William Gibson novels, just because they were there and I haven't read them. Gibson is right now the only author other than Joyce (A few nights ago I read the first ten pages of Finnegans Wake out loud to myself. It's actually becoming more and more clear wat's supposed to be going on, which is both kind of cool and kind of scary) that I like to read just for the texture of the prose, and not having fresh, new Gibson around to read is kind of stifling, so I wanted to have the books here, as a kind of rainy day type of thing. This means I am now only missing two Gibson books, All Tomarrow's Parties and Spook Country. And I have listened to the audiobook of Spook Country. Need to get that one. I really like Hollis, but the narrator's voice gets in the way, I feel. He does this deep breathy voice whenever he does her dialogue, which sounds off, and the intonation is also all wrong. Really, audiobooks are annoying if it's not the author. Gibson in particular, seemed to really nail Neuromancer the one time I heard him read the opening. It sounded perfectly realized and evoked, even thoughGibson sounds nothing like the characters. He just has the emphasis in the sentences all right.

And sometimes audiobooks just seem to comepletely miss the point. I kind of wanted to hear the audiobook for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I found the authorial voice of the novel so feminine, somehow, that I didn't want to listen to it read by a male voice. I mean, sure, most of the characters are men, but it seemed important that most of the men be funneled through a feminine voice; it seemed like the narrator's humourous tone towards the male character was very much the things women find funny about men, not the things men find funny about men. Whenever I read it, I always hear a woman's voice. But maybe that's just knowledge of the "author" playing with me. I know the writer is named Susanna, I hear a voice that could come from someone named Susanna.

Funny, I don't feel like a hear a specific voice whenever I read male author's. I don't feel like that is a tone of voice in books written by men at all.