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Kathe Mazur ~ Baby, It’s Cold Outside


is a narrator to whom I first was introduced this year. Karen White and I organized a narrator/blogger luncheon during BEA and Kathe joined us. Boy did she make me laugh. She is lovely and meeting her was a treat.

Kathe is the narrator of over 100 audiobooks and has recorded a titles by a wide variety of authors, such Hillary Clinton and Anne Coulter. There is definitely something for everyone. She has won an AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award for her work on Cage of Stars by Jacqueline Mitchard. She recorded A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois, one of my favorite reads this year. I am looking forward to reading Becoming Clementine by Jennifer Niven very soon. Other titles that have caught my eye are The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Loud and Clear by Anna Quindlen, and City of Masks (Stravaganza, Book 1) by Mary Hoffman.

You can find Kathe on her website and on Twitter.


Though I live in Los Angeles, where the only dominant season is “Pilot”*, I grew up in snowy New England, where in Winter, it always felt as if you were one step away from a different time; the 19th century Christmas of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, for instance.

Still, when I’m back there, and the snow is falling in the glow of the streetlamps, which may well be the same streetlamps from the late 1800’s, I feel as though I should be carrying a basket of warm muffins and going a-visiting.

Or a-wassailing.

Living there, it always felt as though we were closely connected to the past, to history. On a street winding through my hometown, bronze horseshoes mark the route of the Midnight ride of William Dawes, a shoemaker who, along with Paul Revere, set out to warn the colonials that “The British are coming, the British are Coming!!!” This ride was immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Listen my children and you shall hear of the Midnight ride of Paul Revere….” And down near the Charles River was Longfellow’s own house, where he lived with his family, and where his beloved wife was burned to death from a fallen match. He threw himself over her to save her, and sustained such injuries that from then on he wore his long beard to cover them.

Here he is:

For a wonderful mystery/thriller about this time and place, read The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. Longfellow and his friends are the main characters, and it’s delicious.

Twenty-five minutes away, in Concord, you can stand on the bridge where “The Shot Heard Round the World” that started the American Revolution, was fired.

And from the bridge you can look across at the house where Nathaniel Hawthorne lived. Nearby, is the house where Louisa May Alcott herself lived with her family, lead by her nutty, forward-thinking, irresponsible, and always struggling educator father who lectured outside in the barn. The sisters in Little Women are based on her own, and you can still see the drawings that her artist sister (the real Amy) made on the wall of her bedroom because the Alcotts couldn’t afford wallpaper. Emerson lived across the street from them, where he coined the term “Shot heard ‘round the world” in a poem, “Concord Hymn”, which he wrote in 1837.

And you can visit Alcott’s grave in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow cemetery, where she’s buried on Author’s Ridge, right next to Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson himself, who, instead of having a finished tombstone, wanted to be buried under a rough, untamed boulder.

Down the road, you can sit right on the site at Walden Pond where Thoreau lived in a tiny one-room cabin and wrote Walden.

Christmas always seems to me both beautiful, and a little melancholy like in the movie Meet Me In St. Loius when that tiny Margaret O’Brien, outside in the snow in her nightgown, smashed all the snowmen because she was so heartbroken about leaving her hometown. And Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” to her, which has got to be one of the saddest little songs ever made. I’ll be buying eggs at Trader Joe’s and get weepy in the aisles when they play it.

Christmas seems to me to carry with it excitement and anticipation, but also longing. Longing for what you remember Christmas felt like as a child, or at some other golden time in your life. Or a longing for what it never felt like, but you thought it should have. For what you dreamed of. What you wanted. What you miss. Or a longing for things to stay exactly as they are at this moment. It’s nostalgic, a story you hear from inside.

Christmas is story.

Christmas always hints at another time, when you weren’t able to sleep the night before, when you had snowball fights or made snow angels. When the thing you desperately wanted just might be in that shiny wrapped pile of presents. It’s the stories we tell each other, and ourselves. My son Jake is 5. What will he remember? Blizzard-stuck at an airport hotel, Jeffrey pulled him around on a sled in a snowstorm, in the moonlight. I could see, from the window with my glass of wine, that they were laughing, their faces bright red from the cold, the effort, and the glee.

When I was growing up, my mother always read to my brother, Dan, and me. On humid summer nights, I remember her reading Nightbirds on Nantucket, and we went to bed scared and thrilled. And every Christmas, she would read us A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. Then, she would play us a recording of Dylan Thomas himself reading it, which I guess you could say was the first “audiobook” I ever heard. Here’s a piece of that recording I found on YouTube:

We’d have hot chocolate with marshmallows, a roaring fire, the thrill of not knowing what was inside those packages (what could that shape be???). And the gratitude, even then, knowing that we were lucky to be together, and to have a warm house and plenty to eat, and my father’s laugh, and Dylan Thomas’ voice, and my mother’s.

So Merry Christmas, People of the Word, and Happy Hannukah.

To the ones who write the stories, the ones who tell the stories, and the ones who listen.

To my Audiobook community, and to every community, from my family of the past and my family of the present to all of your families, and all your found families.

May your holidays, whatever they’re called, be filled with excitement, love, and Story. And may at least some of your longings be completely fulfilled.

And, as Longfellow wrote,
“Peace on Earth, Good-will to men!”


*When the new season’s TV shows are cast.

42 Comments

  • At 2012.12.04 09:12, Serena said:

    What a great guest post story about life in New England during winter. I can totally agree with her on all accounts. It definitely has its own feel and can transport you to the historic past of the region. Some days I miss it, but I don’t really miss the snow now that I’ve moved further south.

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    • At 2012.12.04 12:20, Jennifer said:

      Call me crazy, but I miss the snow. I will admit that I might miss it less in practice than I do here where it is so infrequent. I love the take on the history and her comments about the holidays being a story.

    • At 2012.12.04 10:03, Xe Sands said:

      What a beautiful and moving post – thanks so much for sharing your memories and perspective with us, Kathe. That was just lovely, and makes me nostalgic for the holidays of my youth, spent in Connecticut with a big family…watching snow fall, wondering if we’ll make it home from my aunt’s that night after stuffing ourselves silly at dinner and the flurry of presents.

      • At 2012.12.04 12:21, Jennifer said:

        I am a little sad that Christmas and snow will not be connected for my kids. I know they won’t know what they’re missing, but there’s so much joy in snow during the month of December. Come February or March, not so much. Still, there is December. :)

        • At 2012.12.04 12:23, Kathe Mazur said:

          I know– here in LA we “visit” the weather. We drive hours to the bottoms of mountains so kids can feel the snow!

        • At 2012.12.05 02:07, Kathe Mazur said:

          Thanks so much, Xe, for being not only a great performer but a great fan. It’s a lovely combination.

        • At 2012.12.05 01:43, Coleen Marlo said:

          Beautiful story Kathe, just beautiful.

          • At 2012.12.05 02:06, Kathe Mazur said:

            Thanks so much, Coleen! By the way, just got out of GANZ at Redcat. In it, they read the whole book, every single word, of The Great Gatsby. It’s a remarkable performance. 7 hrs. The whole book. It’s like being read an audiobook with a whole performance accompanying it!

            • At 2012.12.05 03:34, Kathe Mazur said:

              I mean GATZ!

              • At 2012.12.05 22:41, Jennifer said:

                I hate it when I do that – and I do that a lot! :)

                I cannot imagine seeing a book live-narrated. How wonderful!

          • At 2012.12.05 11:56, Ti said:

            Loved this post!

            How have you been doing? The end of the year is upon us and I find myself just wanting to sit back and enjoy it.

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            • At 2012.12.05 12:35, Kathe Mazur said:

              Thank you so much, Ti!

              • At 2012.12.05 22:43, Jennifer said:

                Thanks, Ti! We’re in the middle of Christmas parade season here, so I’m a little exhausted. Who thought putting the girls in baton was a good idea? Oh, wait, that was me… LOL! I know what you mean about wanting to sit back and enjoy it. Those days for me start on 12/21 (even if, I suppose, the world comes to an end that day).

              • At 2012.12.05 12:26, Julie C. said:

                What a wonderfully evocative post! Kathe Mazur’s poetic imagination is an inspiration. I’m a big fan of her as an audiobook reader, too! Her reading of “Quiet” was perfection…

                • At 2012.12.05 12:34, Kathe Mazur said:

                  Wow! Thanks so much, Julie. I loved recording QUIET. I think it’s a game-changing book. Thanks so much for your comment, and for listening!

                  • At 2012.12.05 22:43, Jennifer said:

                    I’m adding Quiet to my audiobook TBR list.

                  • At 2012.12.05 14:28, Pam P. said:

                    That was like a history lesson, an English class, a travelogue, and a poem all wrapped up together. Talk about delicious! Now I long, not only for those golden moments of Christmases past, but also for a trip to New England. Your ability to capture the bittersweet qualities of excitement and, dare I say, disappointment that permeate the holiday season, was quite moving and elegantly expressed. Thank you for this beautiful, evocative piece.

                    • At 2012.12.05 19:16, Kathe Mazur said:

                      I know– I wish i could go there right now, too! Your description of the piece is so nice. Now I’m all puffed up.

                      • At 2012.12.05 22:44, Jennifer said:

                        I agree, Pam! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

                      • At 2012.12.05 22:11, surfchyck said:

                        i grew up in england, where christmas was cold, dark, rainy; my neighbourhood smelled like burning leaves and london smelled like roasting chestnuts…i was surrounded by history…but there was nothing so evocative as the christmas kathe described. i’ve never been to new england during the holidays (and now spend my winters in california, where christmas is lights and shopping specials)….but for the few minutes it took to read kathe’s words, i felt immersed in a season i’ve never experienced…and because i run, walk and drive accompanied by kathe’s sonorous expressive voice, i could almost hear her reading it…thank you…

                        • At 2012.12.05 22:45, Jennifer said:

                          I was lucky to have grown up in Michigan and have experienced snows and winters like she talks about. Living in Virginia now, I miss them so much!

                          I’m so glad you stopped by today!

                          • At 2012.12.06 03:41, Kathe Mazur said:

                            Love the handle! DId London have snow? I thought of reading it out loud, but I liked the pictures too much. LA at Christmas is strange, but also kinda great. It’s calm and slow and everyone seems to unplug. But the images of santa and sleighbells, right next to the palm trees…it’s something else.

                          • At 2012.12.05 22:27, Jenna Bayley-Burke said:

                            I’ve always wanted to go to Walden Pond…

                            • At 2012.12.05 22:45, Jennifer said:

                              Wouldn’t that be lovely? It would be a lot like an American pilgrimage.

                              • At 2012.12.06 03:43, Kathe Mazur said:

                                it’s a great trip. The center of Concord is so small, but just packed with things that are great for History and Literature people. I say in the Fall would be the greatest ever!

                              • At 2012.12.06 10:20, Tiki Fuhro said:

                                I love this piece. As a New Englander I love the lore of place and time and how inextricably tied they are.
                                Thank you Ms. Mazur for your literate memories!
                                Tiki Fuhro
                                Portland, Maine

                                • At 2012.12.06 23:20, Jennifer said:

                                  I would love to visit Maine someday. Thanks for stopping by!

                                • At 2012.12.06 11:09, Kathe Mazur said:

                                  You’re so welcome. Is Maine snowy yet? Portland is another beautiful city. Thanks so much for writing!

                                  • At 2012.12.06 14:08, Sarah Degelman said:

                                    The change of seasons makes our own internal transformation less alien and confusing. This piece of nostalgia for New England reminds me how lucky I am to live (near Concord) in New England, where anything can happen from one moment to the next!
                                    Sarah Degelman
                                    Natick, Mass.

                                    • At 2012.12.06 20:40, Kathe Mazur said:

                                      That’s the truth. You never know what’s around the corner. Thanks so much ,
                                      Kathe

                                      • At 2012.12.06 23:22, Jennifer said:

                                        I’ve spent one partial week in Boston at a conference in two days in New Hampshire on business. I had a great time in Boston especially, but that’s the extent of my experience with New England. I need to plan a vacation and explore. Thanks for stopping by!

                                      • At 2012.12.06 20:04, Kevin O'Leary said:

                                        Very Joyce in Paris. Dubliners meets LA! Thanks, Ms. Mazur!
                                        Kevin O’Leary
                                        Brooklyn NY

                                        • At 2012.12.06 20:40, Kathe Mazur said:

                                          I think it’s funny to imagine the Dubliners in LA. Someone could do a great parody!
                                          Thanks so much, and have a great holiday!

                                          • At 2012.12.06 23:24, Jennifer said:

                                            I wonder what Joyce would make of modern culture? Someone please write that novel.

                                          • At 2012.12.07 08:51, Katy McGuinness said:

                                            Thousands of miles away in cold (but not snowy – yet!) Dublin, this evocative post has brought tears to my eyes … not a good look when you’re supposed to be filing a few thousand words in about an hour. In our house it’s The Night Before Christmas – still, even though the is now a house full of teenagers – rather than Dylan Thomas, but the memories resonate through the years just the same. Kathe Mazur, if you audiiobook as well as you write then I’m off to download.

                                            • At 2012.12.08 21:52, Jennifer said:

                                              Dublin! I’d love to visit there someday. I first wanted to go for U2, then James Joyce and Seamus Heaney, and now Tana French. You have some wonderful musical and literary talents to celebrate.

                                              I love The Night Before Christmas. Isn’t there just something about that book that brings back all of the magic and joy?

                                            • At 2012.12.07 16:23, Kathe Mazur said:

                                              A house full of teenagers in Dublin sounds like a wonderful thing. And I love Audiobook being used as a verb! Thanks so much for reading it, and for writing. And good luck with your filing!

                                              • At 2012.12.08 00:19, Cassandra Campbell said:

                                                Jennifer, this is such a wonderful, wonderful forum! I’m honor (and I admit, a bit daunted) by all these posts. Thank you for putting this together!

                                                Kathe’s piece reminds me of home. (I’m from CT, hour outside of Boston, our favorite city to explore as kids). As ever, Kathe, you are wildly smart, funny, warm and loving.

                                                Congrats to you both for an inspired idea and it’s excellent execution. xoxoxo Cassandra

                                                • At 2012.12.08 21:53, Jennifer said:

                                                  Thanks so much, Cassandra!

                                                  • At 2012.12.09 22:41, Kathe Mazur said:

                                                    Cassandra, thanks so much. I cannot wait for yours. You know I am your biggest fan. Although there’s a lot of competition or that position.

                                                  • At 2012.12.09 16:49, Alicia said:

                                                    Beautiful piece Kathe, loved the many interesting details that made it come to life and I wanted to read even more. Growing up in LA, Christmas meant palm trees wrapped in white lights and Hollywood Blvd becoming Santa Claus Lane for a night as Santa and the TV star of the moment rode by Grauman’s and Musso’s. Thanks for connecting your past and present so artfully!

                                                    • At 2012.12.09 22:44, Kathe Mazur said:

                                                      Thanks Alicia! Xmas in LA is always splendid, funny and warm and I love it here that couple of weeks, when I’m in town. Someday you should spend it in New England, but only if it snows!

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