The Profound Reader

“My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the ‘light’ and never mentioned the other, then as an artist, I would be a liar.
Charles Bukowski

The Profound Reader

I love a good “pager turner” and reading a fast light-weight story. There has never been a time when I didn’t have a book by my side and another on deck, ready to be discovered. I’ll read the back of a cereal box or the shampoo bottle in the shower.

Sometimes I like to get more from my reading experience and then it is time to become (drum roll) The Profound Reader. There are three things we look to for this engagement; the writing, the author and the character. These are all very different things and experiences.

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed”. Here is a man who cares very much about the words written as well as the story told. We can enjoy the story but also can enjoy the writing itself. Dorothy Parker said it differently, “I can’t write five words but that I change seven”. Knowing that the author has invested so much in the words themselves, we can get pleasure from the writing.

Knowing about the author can add to our enjoyment. Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the Little House on the Prairie, really did live on the prairie. Ian Fleming, who wrote the James Bond books, was in British Intelligence. How an author lived their own life can be reflected in the writing.

Let’s not leave out the Detective genre. These writers are not so invested in how the words travel like the novelists, they are interested in making their main character as eccentric as possible. These books are not read to figure out the mystery as much as to enjoy the quirks of our favorite detective. Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Jack Reacher, Sam Spade and even Batman are unusual characters that we read to see what they do in any situation and we love it.

Finally, the Profound Reader can take tangents. Poetry is one area where the craftsman has labored over each word and syllable. Brilliant writers like Emily Dickinson used dashes and capitals in odd places to write her poetry; these works must be savored as read.

Sometimes we like to settle down into a comfortable chair and visit with an old friend or meet a new one, alone in the night with a book on our lap.

How about this from Sarah Addison Allen?

“I don’t see your father complaining,” Selma said as she walked out. She didn’t see Kate standing there. Her skirt swished with agitation, and her heels clicked so hard on the sidewalk that they sparked and made black burn marks on the concrete. The air around her was charged with a bright red electricity that every woman recognized. So did every man, but for entirely different reasons. 

Fun stuff.

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