Monday, June 12, 2006


The sun stopped lighting this part of the earth hours ago. With the black and blue night now fully encompassing the houses, trees and cars along my street, I somehow get lost in my thoughts again. I think more at night. Not better. More.

I haven't considered myself a writer for sometime now. I'm a reader and I know that. But Julian Barnes wonders who we read for. If critics have already written eloquently and insightful essays on a particular book and we have nothing new or better to add, then why do we read the book? Why? Because by reading it, it becomes yours. I'm interested in this idea that we, as readers, become possessive of a book, that we take it and make it our own. However, Barnes carries the analogy one step further...how we possess our lives.

But life, in this respect, is a bit like reading. And as I said before: if all your responses to a book have already been duplicated and expanded upon by a professional critic, then what point is there to your reading? Only that it becomes yours. Similarly, why live your life? Because it's yours. But what if such an answer gradually becomes less and less convincing?

Barnes's narrator, George Braithwaite, is writing about his wife's attempted suicide, but I think the idea, or rather, the question is much larger than that. Is Barnes challenging us to make our lives more convincing, to make our lives worthwhile? Possibly, because like great art, I become encouraged and motivated after experiencing it...and like great art, the subject is open to interpretation. That is what I'm leaving with tonight. My life, though ordinary to the highest degree, has not been duplicated and only I can expand upon on it. I am my own critic and I am taking back my life...with the little help of a book.

4 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Also because there's so much pleasure to be had in the experience -- of reading and of life! Someone else having read something and written beautifully about it means nothing to me if I haven't had the experience of reading myself.

Stefanie said...

Great post Mike!

M. Barresi said...

I don't even read professional critics. Each time I read a novel, even if it's a re-read, it's a new experience for me and I gain something from it.

Thanks Stefanie. It was short and sweet, something I'm not to accustomed to.

M. Barresi said...
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