I had one complaint about Barak Obama's presidential inauguration. The poem, "Praise Song for the Day" was great, but Elizabeth Alexander should not have read her own work. Her reading was dull, lending no interpretation to the poem. I was reminded of the years I judged high school Forensics and would cringe hearing freshman girls rush through a piece, giving it no life, no pause, no passion. I lamented that they should've asked Garrison Keillor to read her poem. He'd have done it justice.
The fact is, some authors have no voice for reading their work.
That said, it's a lovely thing to read a book and have the author's voice resonant in your head. I'm halfway through Frank Deford's book The Old Ball Game. I'm a huge fan of his storytelling in that mellow, expansive way that he has--he's lavish with fancy words and outdated slang and the cadence in his story is perfectly paced and intimate. Reading this book is like sitting next to the man himself in a corner bar, listening to him speak of the old times while sipping a drink. I'm rapt, leaning on my elbows, occasionally forgetting myself while he spins his tale until the bartender asks if I need a refill or the TV behind the bar switches from ballgame to commercial.
I've heard many writers read their work--some are brilliant at it, projecting emotion, their voice adding another layer of meaning to their work. Frank McCourt comes immediately to mind. I was charmed by his reading of 'Tis. It's always lovely to hear David Sedaris, Billy Collins, Lesley Kagen, Jim Heynen and Michael Perry. JK Rowling does a nice job bringing her books to life, as does Alice Hoffman. Toni Morrison and Maudy Benz read so badly that I never want to read more on my own.
Chime in, readers--who are the hit or miss author voices in your experience?