Epistolary Day: A Quality of Attention

ReaderComeHomeDear Maryanne Wolf,

Your chapter on the processes of deep reading stopped me in my t-r-a-c-k-s.

I was particularly struck by your account of former president Barack Obama’s conversation with novelist Marilynne Robinson and the capacity for empathy that fiction builds within us.

Excerpt:

…Obama told Robinson that the most important things he had learned about being a citizen had come from novels: “It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that. And the notion that it’s possible to connect with someone else even though they’re very different from you.”

It’s an ability we desperately need in the world today. It makes sense to me that reading can hold the antidote to a “culture of indifference.”

As I turn off my cell phone and computer and prepare to read for the sake of reading, I’m going to be chuckling over Eileen Gunn’s short short story. It would take me many more words to explain that story than the six words that it consists of–or, to be precise, five words, because the word “computer” repeats itself.

Praise the sentence, its opportunities, its limits. Praise reading for the worlds it opens up and keeps on building, in the only mind I have.

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