I saw an article about how adults are flocking to hear stories read aloud at an art gallery. I got to thinking how I loved being read to as a child, how much I now love listening to audiobooks, and how we go to booksignings in part to hear the author read a scene. There’s some deep, primal connection to the ancient art of telling a story to others.
One of my fondest memories, too, is reading poetry aloud with a friend in Ireland. We sat by a peat fire and read and read. It’s a sharing—give and receive—of images and human experience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how stories are told, probably because I’m deep into rewrite of a fairy tale, which has changed quite a bit since its first version. And also because I’ve brought up the issue in some reviews recently on Goodreads.
There was a time when stories were mainly told by author-as-narrator. Today that sort of narrator is often considered old-fashioned, and many stories are told in close first person or third. This change propels us into the POV of the characters but deprives us of some of the bigger picture view of an authorly narrator.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way. Some stories are made richer with a narrator, others may be stronger without. I do know that I realize I’d be telling my fairy tale in very different ways, depending on which path I journey on.
Here are links to the article in The Guardian on reading aloud to adults and in The New York Times discussing the role of narrator.
Among books/authors where I settle in and really enjoy the narrator are Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST, Ursula Le Guin’s A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, Dianna Wynne Jones’s HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE.
Any thoughts on this? I’d love to hear them.