It's festival season, and authors are declaiming at every turn, but are they doing their work any favours?
I suspect most people don't agree with him. The sales of audiobooks are reliably buoyant, and not many seem to mind the tremendous abridgement that goes into putting a novel into spoken-word format. Some readings attained classic status long ago. Alan Bennett rendering Pooh or Alice is somehow a separate pleasure in its own right, while Sir Terry Pratchett's readings of his own works are the antidote to long stretches of motorway driving for others.
This might be the point, though. Does it help that we are very often hearing books on CD being read by familiar voices, the comforting, accessible tones of Prunella Scales or Richard Wilson, say, as opposed to the unmodulated drone or reedy hiccup of whoever happened to write it? If some authors are bad at reading their work, it's precisely because they're not actors and, despite whatever origins the literary arts may have in songs sung on the shores of the Aegean eight centuries before the Christian calendar, telling an audience what it says on the page in front of them isn't these days how it was meant to be transmitted.