Yesterday I forgot to post because I spent the day whipping Casa W6 into shape before a post-reading dinner party we held for our friend Jeffrey Frank, whose Trudy Hopedale was published this month. It was a great, fun reading, but it reminded me of my vow to never read out loud to people on folding chairs ever again. (Jeff said he had made the same vow, but broke it. Not me!)
Mostly it's because I get really, really nervous, and the anxious fallout from such an event more than cancels out whatever pleasure I might get from it. Forget it! But it's also because I don't really like most readings. I love going to friends' readings because I love my friends, and it's incredibly fun to see how the friend I know shows up in the work when they read it out loud. (Not so for spouse readings, which are generally too close for comfort.)
But I still subscribe to the idea that literature is a private pleasure. I know, I know -- I'm supposed to appreciate the storyteller-around-the-campfire thing, and I do. (Looking forward to the annual Jersey Shore trip with JRL's anecdote-laden family.) That's something different, though. A novel or a short story written by a person alone in a small room is meant to be read by a person alone, possibly in a small room, or else in a library carrel or in a park or on the bus. But definitely alone. A book is written from one mouth to one ear. That's an illusion, because there are thousands (or millions) of copies of each book printed. But when you read it, it's you and the writer, alone in a perfect intimate space. No laughing at the wrong places, no espresso machine cranking up, no surprising accent or mannerisms. Just the work.