Magic and Goosebumps

This week I’ve been thinking about books and narrators. Put the right narrator with the right work and sometimes the result can be magical. And, for me, the absolute pinnacle of this is the combination of the words of Dylan Thomas and the voice of Richard Burton. If anyone hasn’t heard – or read, or seen the film – of Under Milk Wood, then do it now. Here’s a recording of the first 9 minutes of the ‘Play for Voices.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuPO2Kvqlms

And there’s another 90 minutes to look forward to! One hour forty of pure goosepimply magic.

Talking about goosepimply magic (and wondering if the US equivalent would be goosebumperly magic) here’s another example – from the world of music this time. Again it’s a matter of transcendence. Something that, in combination, takes something that is already great and lifts it into the sublime. What is it? Well, it happens 25 seconds into Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. You can hear it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo6aKnRnBxM

Originally, the saxophone part was played on the guitar. I’ve heard that version and it sounds really good, but the saxophone version … is the very definition of goosebumperly.

What about you? What makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end the moment you hear it?


An Unsafe Pair of HandsChris Dolley is a NY Times bestselling author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novelette, What Ho, Automaton! was a finalist for the 2012 WSFA Small Press Award for short fiction. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf . An Unsafe Pair of Handsa quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand? Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen. What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins! French Fried the international bestseller – true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell. International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth? Resonance “This is one of the most original new science fiction books I have ever read. If it is as big a hit as it deserves, it may well be this book which becomes the standard by which SF stories about … are judged.”

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Magic and Goosebumps — 5 Comments

  1. I love some of the jazz rockers from that era. Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat, Christopher Cross–lots of lovely stuff out there. I looked for a Cat for you, but all the videos either had outstanding piano and okay sax, or the reverse. The recorded version with its lyrical piano opening still rules.

    And then there are book scenes like this. If I am reading in sequence, I still get thrills in The Return of the King when the cock crows, and the horns echo in the mountains…Rohan had come at last.

    • I don’t listen to audio tapes much, but would love to hear Maggie Smith read Jane Austen, for example.

      Al Stewart: I have always loved his historical ballads. The one about General Guderian is a favorite.

  2. Tchaikovsky. 1812 Overture. Complete with cannons. The ultimate success experience for me would be for a reader to have that experience at the climax to my fantasy trilogy.

    Most recent goosebump moment–listening to the end of Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovich, read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

    Wow.