Regaining Our Reading Life

WE ARE TOLD that if a novel is good, we won’t be able to put it down. We are told a novel will be terrific and unforgettable if it has been marketed as a page-turner, a prizewinner, a best seller.

Bigger is better. Popular is best.

Yet after we buy this novel and all that’s packaged with it, we often don’t receive the promise. Instead we see that what we have bought is like most things in our hyper-commercial culture: a product produced for profit.

Instead of faulting the publisher, we fault ourselves for setting our standards too high.

But what if the novel that we want to read can be put down?

What if instead of prompting us to turn the page with all the subtlety of a prime-time sit-com, the story in the novel develops as life develops — sometimes furiously, sometimes absolutely mysteriously — so that we may need to read a bit slower, a bit more carefully?

We may need to put the novel down just to catch up with the story in our own minds.

At our own pace.

Haven’t we had conversations that resonate and take on new shapes well after we have hung up the phone?

NEW Q LITERATURE can not only be put down, New Q literature is written to be put down. New Q literature waits for the reader. The characters continue to live and breathe until the next time the novel is picked up.

This would not work for a best-selling page-turner whose characters go cold if we stop reading, because commercial novels can only cash in when the fashion is in.

In a nation where business is perpetually hyping the next big thing, what we are looking for in a great novel is not another product that is new and improved.

We are not looking for what to read next so much as what to read at last. And we are simply not going to find literature like that being hard sold on prime time.

We have to find literature that can be put down the same way we find what is meaningful in other areas of our life — by searching it out.

An essential part of appreciating art lies in the process of actually discovering it.

New Q literature gives us back this standing that commercial publishers take away by telling us what to read and when to read it.

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