The Audio Book You Can Never Have… And The One You Can.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

In about 2007, my mother went legally blind.
Nothing has yet to stop her.
She has a hereditary condition called “angioid streaks” that led to emergency laser surgery that went poorly, scabbing up the center of her eye.  She now gets by entirely on peripheral vision, with what she’s described as “a big cigarette burn” blotching up the middle of her view.
Yet she’s gone parasailing since she’s lost most of her sight.  She’s gone river tubing.  She wanders fearlessly through foreign countries where she doesn’t speak the language, and she refuses to use a cane because she hates the way those things look.
She’s an inspiration.
She can read, painfully, slowly, through big magnifying lenses – but instead she’s opted to listen to audiobooks morning, noon and night.  She has to be one of Audible.com’s greatest customers, as she finishes off about five or six audiobooks a week.
And when my book Flex came out – even though Mom usually hates fantasy books – she wanted to read it.  “When’s the audio book coming out?” she asked.
“I don’t know that it will, Mom,” I told her.  “Most books don’t get audio treatments.  If I get an audio book, it’ll be months from now, and the sign that the book’s selling better than I’d hoped for.”
She sagged.   She’d seen the paperback: small type for, spread across many small pages.  No hope of her getting through it and enjoying it.
And I heard from other friends of mine who wanted the audiobook for similar reasons: they too had bad eyesight, or dyslexia, and the prevalence of the Internet had turned audiobooks from this clunky suitcase full of cassettes into a cheap MP3 file.  And I had to tell them the same thing: I can hope.
And today, the audiobook came out.  It’s about $20 and change on Amazon, and you can buy it if you want, and hear Peter Brooke tell you about videogamemancers who surf the consciousness of videogame villains, and bureaucromancers who backdate time, and the intense love a father has for his little girl – so much so that he’ll risk everything for her.
That’s the version you can buy.  Yet I’d promised another.
Because when I saw my Mom look so sad, I promised her a Christmas present: I would read Flex to her. One chapter at a time, in time for Christmas.  I’m not a professional narrator, but I have enough equipment to do the world’s most focused podcast – and so she’ll hear her son read her the story he painstakingly wrote over so many years.
I’m a little nervous about that. I don’t do voices well.  I tend to read too fast when things get exciting.  I hope I can provide the experience as my Mom wants it.
But amateurish as it’ll be, I’m pretty sure she’ll love it anyway.

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