24 September 2008

Review: Ragged Dick or Boot Blacks in New York by Horatio Alger, Jr.

I've listened to Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island from Librivox.org now, and I've been meaning to write about them and how much I've loved them, especially the first one. The others have certainly been pleasant, but they lacked the charm and sweetness of the first two.

After reading those three books, I turned to a trusty list I once received of 900 books to read before you die. I figured of all those, surely there were some that were in the public domain and had been recorded by some kind Librivox volunteer. The list is in alphabetical order by surname of the author, which is why I stopped on Ragged Dick. Librivox had it, so I downloaded it and listened to it in a couple of days.

I had to hurry to get through it because it annoyed me so much.

Ragged Dick is about a boy named Dick who lives in New York City and shines boots for a living. As you can imagine, he is quite poor. But through his own ingenuity, hard work and good morals, Dick is able to rise above his poverty and move on out.

The tale is essentially a moral one; apparently all of Alger's books were similar in style. The characters are all quite flat- either kind, honest and hard-working or mean, dishonest and lazy.

But the most annoying part was the reader. As a reader she was perfectly fine. Actually, as a reader she was quite good. She rarely fumbled over words or anything like that. Her ordinary speaking voice was pleasant enough, although not amazing. (I recognize that I don't really have much room to talk here since my voice is rather high, and I believe, quite annoying). The problem was that this reader tried to do voices. And she just. couldn't. pull. it. off. AT ALL. It was bad beyond belief.

You know when girls try to lower their voices to sound like men, but it doesn't sound like a man's voice at all? She did that for nearly every grown man in the story, and there were several. It was ridiculous.

You know when you raise your voice to a rather squeaky pitch to sound like a little kid, but it doesn't actually sound like a little kid? She did that too.

Most annoying reader in the world.

When well-done, I find voices extremely entertaining- think of the guy who does the audio-books for the Harry Potter books. He is simply phenomenal. But, most people can't do voices. And if you can't do them, you shouldn't bother trying. Just read the dang book! (Only, don't read Ragged Dick because it is very boring).


JaiJai Jillian said...

Maybe the Harry Potter guy has made us all biased. He's SO good. Recently I listened to a portion of Twilight on disc... and the reader is the most bland I have heard. Maybe bland isn't even the right word. She just doesn't know when to raise her voice for a question or say the word Bella without the first sounding like a statement and the second being stretched out into non-existent syllables.

While I do like the convenience of audio books, these types of things you bring are are the reason why reading the book itself it just plain better.

Isabel said...

I love Jaijai's comment. I agree that the narrator of the Twilight books was HORRIBLE. I hated how she said "Bella" too.

I've only listened to a few books on tape, so I'm no expert.

But I do have to say that I too love AofGG. LOVE. I rented the movies from the library years ago (I had seen them before, but wanted to watch them again). Unbeknownst to me I got the version for the blind. Which meant that some guy narrated THE MOVIE. While I'm sure this is very helpful to a blind person, it was really distracting to a person with sight.

The narrator would seriously say things like "Anne walks into the room. She is wearing a yellow hat. Her hair is in braids."

Anyway...just had to share that little tid-bit.