Friday, October 21, 2011

Unavoidable Honest Reply

Q : What does that mean — "to have the reader as close as possible"?

Julian Barnes: This is how I visualize the relationship. There are some writers who go up to a lectern when they write—they stand at a podium and the reader is down there in the audience, and the writer tells the reader about life and what it consists of and what its truths are. By contrast, I like to think of the writer and the reader sitting together, not face to face, but side by side, looking out in the same direction, through something like a café window. And then in my scenario, the writer asks the reader ‘What do you think she’s like? He looks a bit odd, doesn’t he? Now why are they having a quarrel?’ The reader’s gaze runs parallel to the writer’s gaze—the writer is just a little bit ahead because he’s spotted these things first.

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