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Tysto audio books

Entertainment | Books | Audio | by Derek Jensen

Audio Books

These are my contributions to LibriVox. There is also a contributor page for every reader for easy tracking of projects.

Check out my recording setup and techniques.

Two sections from Great Pirate Stories edited by Joseph Lewis French

This project is incomplete.

I jumped on this pirate story anthology, some of which are fiction and some of which are history, and chose the first section after the foreword and a couple of non-fiction sections on famous pirates. The 37-minute "The Piccaroon" has a daunting collection of accents, however: Jamaican, Scottish, Dutch, upper and lower-class Englishmen, and Irish. I hope I did a good enough job not to make people roll their eyes. The 40-minute "Edward Teach - or Black-Beard" is the story of the pirating career of probably the most famous pirate of all, written not long after his death (the text says a dozen of his wives are still living). What a coffee klatch that must have been.

One chapter of Dead Souls by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

This project is incomplete.

I was attracted by the humor and readability of this Russian novel and took the earliest unclaimed chapter, section 3 (38 minutes), which happened to be the one in which the scheme to buy legally-living-but-actually-dead peasants is actually put forth.

Two stories from The Fairy Ring by Kate Wiggin and Nora Smith

This project is incomplete.

After not contributing for a while, I got the urge to read some fairy tales for LibriVox, and—as it happened—there was an open project looking for just that thing. I read "The Ugly Yellow Dwarf" (22 minutes), which was a big downer, and "Graciosa and Percinet" (47 minutes), a much kinder tale. However, these stories really aren't as good as the famous ones.

"A Wedding Chest" by Vernon Lee

For the fourth LibriVox short horror project, I contributed a 36-minute minute 1904 horror tale about love, lust, kidnap, rape, murder, and revenge. The story is sprinkled liberally with Latin, which I had to research to find translations. My research uncovered the fact that Vernon Lee was really Violet Page, a closeted lesbian with a lot of issues, which makes the gruesome fates of some characters rather enlightening.

"Against Indifference" by Charles Webbe

A short and sassy poem about how the speaker wants some attention—either good or bad. Being ignored is worse than being despised. This is one of the weekly projects where numerous readers all read the same brief piece, and it becomes a kind of gallery of voices.

Two chapters of Don Quixote, Vol. 2, by Cervantes

This project is incomplete.

In chapters 2 and 3, Cervantes has Don Quixote at home, his friends and family trying to protect him from crazy Sancho, who protests that it is Don Quixote who is the nut job. Then they learn that Don Quixote has become famous from a book of his exploits (Volume 1), and they puzzle over how that could be and complain about fan-boys who want the plot holes filled in. You can almost hear Cervantes ranting, Shatner-like, "I don't know what happened to the money or to Dapple the ass! Get a life! Move out of your parents' basements!"

One chapter of Edison, His Life and Inventions, by Dyer and Martin

Chapter 8 is a dizzying free-for-all of telegraphy. In the course of this happy hour (57 minutes), Edison invents automatic telegraphy, duplex and quadruplex telegraphy, the Remington typewriter, the mimeograph, wax paper, shoes with springs on the bottoms, friendship bracelets, and the reciprocating spatula. There's also a great moment when he's lectured by industrialist Jay Gould for four hours and thinks "Wow, this guy is clearly insane."

One section of Le Mort d'Arthur by Sir Tomas Malory

Volume 1, book 8, chapters 29 to 33 (about 24 minutes) tell the story of Isoud's sham marriage to King Mark while still going hot and heavy with Sir Tristram; the jealousy of the Saracen (that is: Muslim) Sir Palamides and how he carried Isoud off and got the pants beaten off him for it by Tristram; and the betrayal of Tristram and Isoud to King Mark and subsequent falling out and wary reconciliation between King Mark and Sir Tristram, leading to what is essentially an "open marriage." <sigh> Malory.

Three chapters of The Golden Bough by James Frazer

This project is incomplete.

Chapters 29 to 31 (about 45 minutes) are all about Adonis, but not like you think. Frazer goes deep into the origin of the beautiful-man myth and finds ancient love gods, religious prostitution, and royal incest. Oh, and harps. But his long-winded style, typical of 19th-century scholars, makes for ponderous prose.

"The Unites States Bill of Rights" by James Madison

This 4-minute piece was part of a project in which 15 people all read the "Bill of Rights" (as was done for "Jabberwocky" and others). This provides an interesting selection of voices—one imagines them being used to create an audio montage for a political commercial. It's educational, too. It turns out that the "right to party" is not among these initial 10 amendments, so it must be up around 12 or 13.

"The Stranger's Latchkey" by R Austin Freeman

For the second LibriVox short mystery project, I contributed a longish (50 minute) 1909 mystery starring the popular detective character Dr. John Thorndyke. Like a lot of detectives of the era (or any era, for that matter), Thorndyke and physician sidekick Jervis are basically a Holmes-Watson crib, but the mysteries are very scientific, and were published complete with photos of microscopic hair evidence, footprint drawings, and crime scene schematics. It's kind of funny to see bicycles being treated as high-tech "machines" as well as the sometimes comical turn-of-the-century habits and manners. And it seems like an awful lot of nasty behavior at that time was the result of someone wanting enough money to get married.

Six chapters of The Heroes by Greek dudes, with help from Charles Kingsley

Having grown up with all the various myths of the Greeks and Romans implanted in my brain, I couldn't resist chipping in for this children's work (which is to say, the dirty bits about rape and divine impregnation are left out). These are specifically the hero myths, so there is certainly plenty of smiting and slaying but no more than what's in the bible.

I volunteered to read sections 12 and 13 (about 60 minutes), the first parts of the Theseus story, before he gets to the minotaur. It's really well written, and I tried to put a lot of spark into my reading. I've since done sections 10 and 11 also (also about 60 minutes), the end of the Argonauts story, making it fully subscribed. I can't wait for the whole thing to be finished; I'm tripping on Medeia, Jason's crazy evil genius witch girlfriend. In section 10 (having heard some echo effects in LibriVox's Journey to the Interior of the Earth), I added some special effects to the voice of the magic oak bough (yes, it's a magical tree branch that talks) and the voice of the brass giant.

UPDATE: One reader defaulted on three sections, so those came up for grabs, so I did section 3, Perseus v. Medusa (the court found in favor of Perseus) and section 4, Perseus saves Andromeda from the sea monster. Both these have a little special effects too. I gave the titan Atlas a deep bass voice and the goddess Athena a bit of reverb.

Chapter 10 of Charles Dickens by CK Chesterton

I love Dickens. He's very readable because he used to give dramatic readings himself to live audiences, doing all the voices and everything. I think that forced him to simplify his sentence structure while his contemporaries were reveling in labyrinthine run-on sentences.

This is a biography that explores and describes Dickens' work in addition to his life. There was one chapter left, so I volunteered for it, making the work fully subscribed and pushing it that much farther along toward completion. Chapter 10 is "The Great Dickens Characters" (32 minutes) in which our author boldly asserts that Dickens could think up a lot of interesting characters and points out that most of them are poor and generally comically foolish.

The Young Visiters, or Mr. Salteena's Plan by Daisy Ashford (age 9)

My first long-form (94 minutes) and solo piece, this is a clever, silly, and very funny novella by a little English girl written around 1890 but not published until 1919, after JM Barrie (author of Peter Pan) took an interest. Mr. Salteena is "an elderly man of 42" who has designs on his much-younger house guest who unfortunately falls for the wealthy gentleman that Mr. Salteena enlists to help get him into high society. Mr. Salteena impresses a friendly earl and a chatty prince of Wales, but can he win back pretty Ethel? Daisy's characters shine like new pennies when they puzzle over the etiquette of tipping and taking the larger bedroom, what it means to be a "sinister son," when to put on rouge, and whether or not London is a good place for a marriage proposal.

The reading is a little halting because, cruelly, little Daisy was not furnished with an editor; her "rarther nice" manuscript was typeset exactly as it was, creative spelling, limited punctuation, and all, with only paragraph breaks added. One wonders how William Faulkner's reputation would have fared if he had not been afforded an editor. Indeed, Shakespeare himself never spelled his own name the same way twice.

"Untechnological Employment" by EM Clinton, Jr.

A very short (5 minutes) science fiction story from 1962 that takes the form of a volley of teletype messages back and forth between the White House and the United States Pacific Spaceport. Don't worry: I don't try to read the White House communiqués with JFK's Massachusetts accent.

"Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll

The classic stuff-and-nonsense poem from Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass. My first submission. This poem was the subject of a big project of its own, so there are literally dozens of others who have recorded it. I think of the "Jabberwocky" page as a catalog of voices; find one you like and listen to some other stuff that reader has done. There are some that I'd listen to read the phone book.


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