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Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Only Connect'

In these ultra-plugged-in days, having a niche, being known for one thing, seems to be a key to being known.

Oh well.

I just can't do it. I can't read and write only about one kind of novel or even fiction. I read literary fiction, short stories, crime fiction and YA. I read history, biography, current events and lots of memoirs. I read science for non-scientists and books about the movies and cookbooks. My magazine and literary journal subscriptions are gifts that expand the world every time they arrive in the mail.

As for reviews, I've been writing them since the late 1970s while working for a small daily newspaper in southwest Washington, and for CompuServe for roughly 10 years. The latter started as romance reviews. I appreciated them for teaching me about the flow of story, how to balance interior and exterior conflict and how to see what works and what doesn't within the regularly defined confines of a genre.

But just as I don't eat fish or chicken or salad every night, so I don't read only one thing. And so this blog won't be about only one kind of reading.

While I understand that genre exists to provide a bit of guidance about what kind of story to expect, I cannot put down any to build up another. They all serve a reading purpose. And at different times in my life and reading experience, they have given me different treasures. They have made me more aware of other people's ideas and feelings, of their experiences, and of how we are truly connected.

As E.M. Forster wrote in Howards End: "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."

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