It is a little-known fact that electronic music pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron supplemented their income by recording avant-garde writers reading from their own work, including Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, and Anais Nin, under the label of Sound Portraits. The Barrons had heard Nin reading and were captivated not only by the nature of her work, but by the author herself. Nin’s 1936 “prose poem,” House of Incest, was perhaps Nin’s most creative fiction, called “surrealist” by some, “French poetry written in English” by others, and “unique” almost universally. Some have devoted theses, articles, and books to the exploration of the meaning of House of Incest, but perhaps the best way to interpret it is to listen to Nin’s masterful performance of reading it aloud. It is then the words come alive and weave together in ways not obvious by merely reading them on paper. Nin breathes significance into each passage, each phrase, each word, masterfully emphasizing and enunciating only as she can. To listen to the entire work in 64 minutes parallels dreaming it with Nin. Her voice is the music, her words the lyrics, both of which precipitate images unique to each listener. This book has no definite and concrete meaning–it is an experience that we each can call our own. That is the magic of Nin’s work in general, and House of Incest in particular.
Adam Barron, the son of Louis and Bebe Barron, has finally released the CD version of his parents’ recording of Nin, and with the modern technology of remastering and digitization, the product sounds every bit as pristine as the original. It is available through his web site, http://www.barronsoundportraits.com for $15.00US, postage included in the U.S., and it includes many extras, such as a facsimile of the original liner notes, a synopsis, and a glossary of some of Nin’s terminology.
The proceeds from the sale of the CD go to UNICEF.