Right now I’m reading IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER, a book that is part experiment, part commentary, and all about book love.
It’s a collection of first chapters of made-up books. Just as you’re getting hooked, Reader (meaning you — much of the book is told through a second-person point of view) finds his book has been misprinted. Like a treasure hunt, Reader looks for the rest of the book but continues to stumble on new first chapters, getting further and further drawn into new stories he can never fully read.
Instead, Reader thinks about books, wondering if stories exist at all apart from the author or if they only begin once the author is removed, if words get in the way of a story or if they are the story themselves, if each reader experiences the same story or if every time a story is read it is something new.
And for those of us who read and write, there’s this idea I read last night:
There’s a boundary line; on one side are those who make books, on the other those who read them. I want to remain one of those who read them, so I take care always to remain on my side of the line. Otherwise, the unsullied pleasure of reading ends, or at least is transformed into something else, which is not what I want.”
What are your thoughts on these things — an author’s role in a story, the way words build or distract, the unique perspective each of us brings to what we’ve read? And you writers out there, is it possible to cross the boundary line and still experience “the unsullied pleasure of reading”?