Saturday, January 22, 2011
How to Be a Good Moby-Dick Marathon Reader, Part 1
When you register, no one inquires into your qualifications or lack thereof. They don't even ask if you've read Moby-Dick or are a member of the museum. Not unlike a Quaker meeting, where the Inner Light might move anyone to speak, the marathon denies nobody who registers the opportunity to be heard. Eloquence or learning is not a prerequisite.
Just as not everyone is a born preacher, not everyone is a born reader. The quality of marathon readings varies as much as the backgrounds of the volunteers. Still, I believe it's possible to agree on a handful of principles that, if observed, will help you read in a most pleasing manner. We will propose these principles from time to time in a series of posts.
Rule 1: Do not shout.
The podiums at which the readers stand are equipped with sensitive microphones. They will pick up and amplify perfectly well whatever you say in a normal speaking voice. If you come on board "shouting like a boatswain in a gale of wind," the amplified sound will knock the listeners out of their chairs. It's painful. The back row will hear you fine without shouting.