With several impressive film and television credits to his name, Ray Porter is equally at home lending his stately voice to audiobooks. Since he’s an avowed aficionado of blues legends like Robert Johnson and has appeared in a number of movies with a rock-and-roll theme--including “Almost Famous” and “The Runaways”--it’s no surprise he recently tackled Greil Marcus’s THE DOORS: A LIFETIME OF LISTENING TO FIVE MEAN YEARS, a highly analytical memoir about the legendary band.
Porter says, “The thing that struck me the most about the book is that it’s very personal. It’s as if Marcus takes us into a concert of the Doors and gently explains to us while we’re listening to the music what’s going on. I like that approach. It’s a listener’s view of the Doors. It’s not just a history--although it’s that as well.”
Considering that Porter’s background includes a twenty-year stint with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, it’s not surprising that he feels comfortable in an interpreter’s role. “With every book I’ve done, I have found that the author has a voice and if I can just do my best to stay out of the way of that voice, then the writer will convey what he’s trying to put across. So for me, it’s really more about enabling the text and what the author is trying to say.”
When he’s narrating, Porter tries to put in several hours a day. “Some books demand a lot more time to read,” he says, “and there are others that just sort of flow along, but the average length I shoot for is about three hours, recorded. That can be anywhere from five hours to six hours in the studio.” He says one of the things he likes about being a narrator is the flexibility--he can go pick up his 4-year-old son at day care while his wife, a costumer in Hollywood, works. The family is currently in the process of moving into a new house, where Porter can finally build the studio he’s always wanted.
So what does Porter like best about being a narrator of audiobooks? “The thing I’m happiest about is the diversity of work projects. You have everything from Greil Marcus’s book to Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series to books about physics, like THE 4 PERCENT UNIVERSE. I even got to narrate THE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO STRING THEORY. That’s the thing I’ve enjoyed so much--that and the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to read books that I probably would never have chosen for myself but that I now love.”--Joe S. Harrington.