The Voiceover Artist
by Dave Reidy
Seven-year-old Simon Davies suffers a crippling stutter inherited from his father. To punish his father for failing to protect Simon from the cruel teasing he endures, he stops speaking completely—eventually rendering his vocal cords useless from atrophy. Now unable to speak, Simon finds solace in the sounds of the voices piping through his bedside radio.
Eighteen years later, after much practice, he regains control of his voice and moves to Chicago to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a voiceover artist, carefully hiding his stutter beneath a series of tics he’s developed to loosen his vocal cords. Meanwhile, his younger brother Connor, in every way more confident and charming than Simon, attempts to take his prodigious talent for improv comedy from the barroom stages of Chicago to the television studios of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. After his years of silence, Simon seeks to balance his relationship with his brother, forcing Connor to examine what brotherhood and success mean to him.
Told in a series of first-person narratives by the characters who weave in and out of Simon's life, The Voiceover Artist considers the complexities of family and celebrates the heart with which we fight to fulfill our dreams.
"Reidy smartly takes us just up to Simon's first, not wholly unalloyed, triumph, paralleled by bittersweet family moments ... An appealing portrait of one individual's struggle. —Library Journal, Top Fall Indie Fiction
“A compassionate and earnest read.” —Publishers Weekly
“Reidy’s portrayal of Simon’s anxieties and insecurities, both throughout his years of silence and later in his bid to be heard, is moving and honest.” —Booklist
“ . . .Rich and varied . . . . an energetic parade of characters and voices . . . ." —Kirkus Reviews
“The Voiceover Artist connects a community of disparate Chicagoans—rising stars and fading elderly, drunks and dreamers, performers and mutes—who yearn to find their voices and prove their value to the world. In a chain of intimate, first-person narratives, each character takes a turn at the microphone, confessing to the reader the secrets that separate them from the people they love. The Voiceover Artist is a compelling and unforgettable exploration of the power of the human voice and the human heart." —Valerie Laken, author of Dream House and Separate Kingdoms
"Woven into the middle of this captivating story is the most accurate depiction of the Chicago improv world that I've ever read. When you open The Voiceover Artist, you can smell the stale beer and hear the clever quips." —Keegan-Michael Key, co-creator and co-star of the Peabody Award-winning Comedy Central series Key & Peele
"The Voiceover Artist is tender and beguiling. It is a wonderful story, told with artful directness about family, faith, forgiveness and the large human struggle we all face to find our true voice." —Scott Turow, author of ten best-selling novels
"I often wonder what happens in a person's life to change him from a boy to a man. But brothers don't change from a brother into something else. They remain brothers. As a man, being and having a brother might start to feel claustrophobic. No way out. Dave Reidy's The Voiceover Artist examines this from every angle. This novel is brotherhood, is boyhood, is manhood. How poignant that these characters are searching for their voices while attempting to use these voices to make a living. There is family, life, raw realness to be found in their father's stutter, in their jealousy and love for each other, in every word of Reidy's book."
—Lindsay Hunter, author of the novel Ugly Girls and the story collections Don't Kiss Me and Daddy's
"My first thought picking this book up was what if Binx Bolling [of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer] were really Catholic and winds up not glib in New Orleans but stuttering in Chicago? This is a completely errant, if not arrant, idea. The Voiceover Artist is a broad, ambitious, multifaceted, exacting set of portraits of some very twisted folk. They are their own analysts, viciously jockeying to win. Mr. Reidy can be frightening."
—Padgett Powell, Whiting Award winner and author of six novels, including You & Me
ABOUT DAVE REIDY:
Dave Reidy's fiction has been published by Granta and other journals. His first book, Captive Audience, a collection of short stories about performers, was named an Indie Next Notable Book by the American Booksellers Association. Reidy works at closerlook, inc., where he is the VP of Creative. He lives in Chicago.
Publication Date: November 2015