Strange coming from a writer, but I have, like many before me, learned never to believe what I read. Though maybe this is because I am a writer. A writer knows better than anyone how much must be left out. A writer knows better than anyone how the details you do choose to share slant the story you tell. A writer knows that what remains on the page after all the editing and rewriting is, at its very best, nothing more than a vivid and imaginatively fertile glimpse of the whole. So I don’t believe what I read. No matter how well written, no matter how well researched, no matter how relentlessly detailed, I don’t believe I am getting the whole picture. But I don’t want the whole picture. It’s too much. What a bore that would be. Plus I enjoy filling in all those details the writer must by necessity leave out. I know what Gatsby’s Daisy really looks like and I don’t need Fitzgerald cluttering things up with his opinion on the matter.

And I certainly don’t believe it when a writer tells me someone is sad or happy or lonely or angry. That’s for me to decide. I’ll decide if your hero is noble or brash, if your villain is wicked or vain. In fact, I love to decide such things. I am like a little emperor – a little god even, looking down from my perch above the page and casting final judgments. What a joy to know the writer’s characters in this way. I see myself in all of them, and aren’t I interesting?

Though maybe I am being too severe. There are some things I’ve read that I believe. Strange, I just can’t remember what right now. I have the clearest memory of sitting with a book, and I must have been reading it, for I thought, “Yes! That is absolutely true.” That memory is like a dream now, how in a dream a book becomes All Books. No matter – the book itself is unimportant. The feeling is all I care about. The writer had reminded me of something that I had in my distraction forgotten, something I spotted between all his or her precious words. But I’ve got it back now, and I am forever grateful, and I believe I must read another book before I forget it again.

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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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