Friday, June 24, 2011

Quick hello and a question for readers

Thanks, friends, for all the comments while I've been gone -- it's been a wonderful treat to see comments pop up while I'm racing between workshops, exhibits, and receptions!

So far, I haven't seen much of Charlotte other than the two-blocks surrounding the convention center. Such is life.  But I did have a fantastic culinary adventure my first night, and sit down because you're going to be shocked: it wasn't Carolina-style BBQ!  (I think that might be a sin.)  Randomly, we found this staggeringly awesome Swedish restaurant!

I know it's not an impressive looking dish BUT it was amazingly delicious.  Swedish meatballs (far more romantically called Kottbullar on the menu, if I recall correctly) with this melange of cider (alcoholic!) soaked apples, some cabbage, potatoes, and...other stuff.  I forget, but it was tasty, and with $2 beers (how badly I miss happy hour.  Boston, I love you, but less blue laws, please!), it was a fabulous night for my wife and I.

Since then, it's been energy bars and what we can grab from the food court nearby (Einstein Bros and Bojangles!).  I plan to do some sightseeing post-conference, though, and catch up on my reading.  (This is the first night I didn't immediately pass out upon returning to the hotel!)

Here's a bookish link and query to my reader friends from an article I read when I needed a break from my day.

LibraryThing interviewed Mukherjee Bharati, author of Miss New India (which I have in my queue to review.).  If you read the interview, Bharati responds to criticisms that her heroine is too passive; she argues that a 'careful reader' will see the heroine's 'awakening and self-empowerment'.  That got me thinking: is it a reader's fault if they see something other than what the author meant?  Is it the author's fault?  Is there no fault, perhaps?  At the reading with Emma Donoghue, she talked about being delighted when readers presented her with their interpretations Room, however strange or varied from her vision, while China Miéville indicated some frustration.  What do you think?


  1. I think it's silly for an author not to expect that each reader is going to take something different from their book because we are all different types of people, and we are all going to pick up on different things and ideas within the the story. It's really kind of amusing that authors expect all readers to feel the same way about the material presented to them.

  2. Wow, a Swedish Jealous actually. I think its no one's fault. However, it is usually rare that writers have particular intentions to their stories, so I think that says something about this particular author. She takes her writing very seriously. She simply has high expectations of her readers, thinking they will see what she sees. Not necessarily a bad thing.

  3. You remembered correctly :D Köttbullar (I hope the dots make it so it does not look funky)

    I would not say it is anyone's fault since we all see different things in books

  4. I actually think it's the sign of a good writer when different people take away different things from a book -- it suggests to me that the author has left shades of gray in his or her work, which I think is more difficult to do successfully.

  5. I don't like it when an author spoon feeds me a story. I like for it to be presented in a certain way that allows me, the reader, to interpret it the way I see fit. The only time this doesn't work is if it's a mystery, where something is actually solved. If you don't "get it" then you sort of lose out.

    If an author expects the reader to get a certain point, then I am not sure they are going down the right path. Does that make sense?

  6. Everybody interprets what they read differently, and some books are more open to interpretation than others. But Bharati's comment actually makes me a little angry. It's not my job to read "carefully". If the author wants her character to come across a certain way, then she'd better write more "carefully" next time. Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed Charlotte!

  7. I think once a book is published "it belongs to the ages" -- and to readers. Authors need to realize they don't get to tell people how to interpret their books!