A writer and an actor, Aaron Hartzler’s autobiographical performances have been seen in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, where he received a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Performance. RAPTURE PRACTICE, his memoir for young adults, was published in April. In our latest audiobook blog post, Aaron talks about how a great narrator can make or break the tone of a book --- as well as make all the unread classics in your to-be-read pile seem a little less intimidating --- and why it’s unsafe to drive while listening to Rupert Everett read his own memoir, RED CARPETS AND OTHER BANANA SKINS.
Question: What does a great narrator add to an audiobook?
Aaron Hartzler: A great narrator can make or break the tone of a book. Adding just the right amount of the performative aspect to the reading can uncover subtle layers of meaning between the lines on the page. When a great narrator reads a great text, there’s subtext at work.
Q: What types of books do you like to listen to on audio?
AH: I’ve listened to both classic and new fiction as well as memoir and personal essays.
Q: What do you do while you listen?
AH: Usually I’m driving. Sometimes I’m running.
Q: What is the first audiobook you ever listened to? What prompted you to choose that title and to listen vs. read it?
AH: David Sedaris reading NAKED was the first audiobook I listened to. I’d already read the book, but when I heard him reading his own work on “This American Life” and other NPR shows, I knew I had to listen to him read his own stuff.
Q: If you are listening to any audiobooks now, tell us about it.
AH: Currently, I’m listening to John Slattery read A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway. Slattery has the perfect mix of performance and just saying the words that this classic requires. I love listening to classics on audio. Sometimes I feel like I have all of this “homework” to do --- books I *should* have read, but haven’t yet. A fantastic narrator allows me to get over my embarrassing resistance to reading The Greats.
Q: What is your all-time favorite audiobook and why?
AH: RED CARPETS AND OTHER BANANA SKINS by Rupert Everett. There’s something spectacular about the way these true stories come to life in the mouth of their incredibly gifted and funny author. I actually had to pull off the road while driving and listening to this book because I was laughing so hard I was afraid I would lose control of the vehicle. His American-accented impersonation of Sharon Stone is so perfect that it must be heard. You’ll never get the full experience of that chapter about their movie together if you don’t listen to Rupert read as Sharon Stone.
Q: Have you ever narrated your own audiobooks? If so, tell us about your experience.
AH: I have not yet narrated my own memoir RAPTURE PRACTICE, but I hope to do so if and when we can secure a contract for the audio version.