"A voice that mesmerizes." – NY Daily News
There are moments of serendipity and synchronicity in life that are genuinely thrilling. Penguin Random House producer Karen Dzienkonski inviting me to narrate IF: THE UNTOLD STORY OF KIPLING’S AMERICAN YEARS by Christopher Benfey was such a one. Having Paul Ruben direct me was an added bonus.
Over breakfast this spring, Karen mentioned that there was a book on Kipling for which she had not yet found a narrator. I lit up inside, and recited for her the poem If. Imagine my joy when the job was booked by lunch.
The works of Rudyard Kipling were an intrinsic part of my childhood and helped shape my imagination and character. Rikki Tikki Tavi and Kim were my faithful companions and the poem If was my catechism.
When I was Bar Mitzvah, the gift which made the greatest impact upon my life was not a fountain pen or a savings bond. My mother’s employer was from Britain, and when the young men in her family were sent off to boarding school, their rite of passage towards adulthood, they were given a razor, and a copy of the poem If to hang by their shaving mirror. My copy was done by hand in calligraphy. Due to the fancy style of the lettering, for many years I misread the line “and yours is the earth…” as “and yours is the Garth…” That copy survived five moves and more than 40 years.
Two years ago, I printed out a copy of If and hung it in the front bathroom for our son to learn. When he is Bar Mitzvah this fall, If will be in the service. He already wants a mongoose for a friend and is learning about “The Great Game” by reading Kim. Reading and recording this book completed something for me. I hope it will do so for you too.
In addition to Christopher, Karen, and Paul, and our engineer Jon Gil, I want to thank all of the people who assisted us with pronunciations, including The Kipling Society, The Brooks Memorial library in Brattleboro, VT, the Madhok family and Isabelle Ho.
Now, if only someone could convince Christopher Benfey to write a new biography on Lafcadio Hearn…