Paul Fleschner: On narrating the audiobook of The Forever Year

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The Forever YearI’ve been blessed with narrating a lot of audiobooks in the past year.  Over 100 hours of narration.   Some titles I enjoy more than others, though of course I try let that not come across in the narration.  But inevitably favorites happen.   And The Forever Year happened to me.  I took the audition as I would take any other audition, and was grateful for the offer to do the book.  I approached the work like I would any other job, but as I moved deeper into the story, something happened.  The characters became real people to me.  Of course this is one of the reputed goals of acting, a high ideal often quite elusive in practice.  But I didn’t have to work at it in The Forever Year.  The characters just came to me, right off the page, right from the mind and imagination and heart of Lou Aronica.  This is a book with a lot of heart.  And don’t get me wrong, there is psychological nuance and technical precision in Mr. Aronica’s writing, and those elements do serve the story.  There is no lack of craft in the writing, but it’s the genuine tenderness with which Mr. Aronica writes about the people that inhabit his multi-generational narrative world, the care and concern that he invests in the depiction of their souls and struggles, that leaves me wanting to meet the man that wrote this book, and gives me pleasure in recommending our collaborative effort–the audiobook of The Forever Year–to any one interested in meeting some very real characters.

As to Lou’s central character–or I should I say the younger of his two central characters–Jesse Sienna–his journey parallels my own experience described above.  I encounter many characters on a monthly basis (both on the page and in real life!), so it’s not unusual to feel an affinity with some souls more than others.  However–regarding Jesse Sienna–it’s the arc of his movement toward meaningful work and purpose that really resonate with me personally.  Jesse has this initially ambiguous and increasingly clear sense that he’s meant to be doing more.  He’s grateful for the work in his life–the quotidian run of the mill Consumer Report style pieces of writing that are his bread and butter.  However, he knows they aren’t challenging and fulfilling even as he strives to find his own voice.  Connect with his own voice, would be a more apt description…he’s fumbling through the process of discovering how to articulate his sensibilities and point of view.  He’s gradually growing more confident about bringing attitude to his work, but it’s not a neatly linear process.  At first it seems confounded by, and then catalyzed by, uncontrollable events in his life.  Love, aging, heart ache and heart break.  It’s through the crises of close relationships that Jesse ultimately discovers lasting joy in his work and beyond his work–and I can say that the same is true in my own life in recent years…caring for a terminally ill relative, falling in love, getting married…these things don’t get in the way of finding purpose in life, though they can certainly complicate things before clarity arrives.  In the case of The Forever Year, Lou Aronica delivers this home through the lens of looking back at the older Mickey Sienna’s life–into Mickey Sienna’s grumbly, gruff and fundamentally tender old soul–sharing the exact same lesson from father to son.  Risk everything.  Step off the cliff.  Through that self-elected vulnerability we step into the crucible of great love and loss.  And that’s where we experience the greatest joys and pains in life–and where mission and true identity are born.

The Forever Year is The Story Plant’s first audiobook and is available from AudibleAmazon, and iTunes. As a special promotion, we’re offering a signed paperback copy of The Forever Year to the first ten people who purchase the audiobook and send their receipt to us here.

At the age of 16, PAUL FLESCHNER’s first films premiered at a local movie theater to sell-out crowds. Paul went on to design his own curriculum at Duke University under the mentorship of legendary Southern novelist and Faulkner award winner, Reynolds Price; with a focus on storytelling and the creative arts. Subsequently, Paul studied acting at BADA in Oxford with such notables as Fiona Shaw and John Barton. Paul’s feature film directorial and acting debut, The Drunk, a political drama starring Tom Sizemore, is slated for wide release in Spring 2014 by Green Apple Entertainment, see www.thedrunkmovie.com. Next, Paul came on as an actor and producer in the upcoming brainy comedy, The Origins of Wit and Humor, starring Joe Hursley and Steve Lemme. In addition to Paul’s numerous films in development, he found time to narrate over 100 hours of audiobooks in 2013–including the U.K.’s nonfiction book of the year, Graven with Diamonds.

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On February 17, 2014
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