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George Bowering Biography

George Bowering Comments:

(2000) There is a distinction between "the reader" and the person who is holding the silent book and reading it.

Sometimes I go so far as to say that the "author" and the "reader" are characters in my story. (The implications are interesting if you extend this structure to speeding tickets and marriage certificates.)

How often you or I have read something in criticism or theory about "the reader," and realized that this construct is as distinct from us as is Patrick Henry or Spider Robinson.

Anyone knows that literature is an idea but reading is what you do. Literature can't hurt you but reading can.

(I am of course in my own ant-trap here, because no matter what I do, the "you" I am talking about is not the person reading these words, are you?)

So that construct that certain critics like to write about, "the reader," can't do anything about what is written. But if you are reading a book you can intervene. You can invent a reading.

You can always skip page 35. You can read from the last page to the first. You can stick pages from a pornographic novel between Northrop Frye's sheets. You can call the narrator of Atwood's second novel Agnes. Or you can intervene simply by reading the way you read.

The person who wrote the book can't stop you. The "author" can't, either. And the "reader" doesn't know you exist.

A lot of what they call "reflexive" writing is simply the result of the writer trying to be you. You are the ground of the so-called postmodern. You know, our high school English teachers really knew all this, but they didn't think that it was the kind of thing they were supposed to be teaching us. We knew it, too, but we didn't think we were supposed to think about such things during the high school English game.

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