Monday Morning Confessional

Monday Morning Confessional September 23, 2013

I confess that I did not confess last week. I’ve been taking Monday off as a true Sabbath in order to gain at least a little bit of ground toward a more sane pace of life. Kristin and I have spent the better part of the past two Mondays together, going to museums or seeing movies. It’s been pretty amazing. I confess that I should have started this practice years ago. I’m still trying to figure out how to make MMC happen, though, so bear with me.

I confess that I have switched to riding the bike instead of running for the past two months. Since the weather is cooling down, I’ve started to slowly make the switch back to running. It’s not going particularly well. I can see why triathletes are in such amazing physical condition. Bike-shape and running-shape are not quite the same thing. I’ll be learning that lesson the hard way over the next month or so.

I confess that I have been withholding my affections for the KC Royals since 1994, but after this season I am all-in. Maxwell’s walk-off, extra innings, home-season ending grand slam yesterday sealed the deal for me. The stage was perfectly set: last home game of the season, playoffs hang in the balance, 0-0 shutout heads into extra innings, bottom of the 10th, bases load, two outs, Maxwell is at the plate… Grand-slam. Are you kidding me? Royals win 4-0, and the home season is over for the year (unless we make the playoffs, which is a long-shot). I was watching with my oldest son & we yelled like we were at the stadium in person. I confess we freaked the dog out a little bit. She got pretty nervous.

I confess that I’m glad Jeff Daniels won the Emmy for best actor in a drama last night. I was hoping The Newsroom would win something. I think the stage is set for a pretty amazing season three and four if Sorkin can capitalize on a phenomenal cast.

I confess that I’m nearly finished reading Team of Rivals, and I have to say that Doris Kearns Goodwin has some serious game. I’ve read Lincoln biographies before, but Kearns-Goodwin’s approach of focusing in on the relationships he built with his cabinet, and the way he was able to deal with the egos and ambition and pettiness and ignorance makes for an even more amazing story. I knew that Lincoln was a man of great vision and courage, but I did not know what a shrewd politician he was. I confess that I have only one complaint with my reading experience so far:

I’m listening to this book on Audible, which is a great way to read long books. However, I’m actually struggling with the voice of the reader. Kearns-Goodwin was born in Brooklyn and raised in Nassau County. She speaks with a bit of a Brooklyn accent, and I think she writes with one as well. In fact, her voice is one of my favorite things about her writing.

The reader for the audiobook is Suzanne Toren, a professional actress who has made a career on Broadway and reading audiobooks. She is also a New Yorker, but was trained in a British style and is an expert in Shakespeare. Toren speaks with a touch of a British accent, very dramatic and a tiny bit uppity. She seems to have done the audiobook for just about everything Jodi Picoult has written, a ton of chick-lit, and a fair amount of European history as well.

Toren’s voice – refined, posh, and dramatic with a subtle Madonna-esce British accent – is so completely incongruent with Kearns-Goodwin’s voice – frank, unassuming, and colloquial – that it simply doesn’t work. This is the first time I’ve had this kind of experience with an audiobook. It’s not that Suzanne Toren is a bad reader, she’s an incredible reader. Yet her reading voice is so out of step with Kearns-Goodwin’s writing voice that the whole production is thrown off. Simon and Schuster got this totally wrong. They should rerecord the audio book with a reader who has a similar voice to Kearns-Goodwin. I would listen to the entire book again. I confess that despite this, I’m still enjoying the book, and will be sad to finish.

Okay, I’ve made my confession. Time for you to make yours.

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