Reader's Block - Blocks Not Just for Writers Anymore

I am really loving Elizabeth Bachner's feature in Bookslut this month about reader's block.

Sure we all know about unsuccessful writers - those tired, sad lonely souls desperately wracking their conscious mind, sub-conscious mind - anything, anything at all! - in order to squeeze blood from a very dry stone.

Then, there are the writers who are hounded by their entourage of enablers - agents, editors, lawyer etc. Can we make this novel into a memoir? they ask. Oh and chop chop on spitting out that book, we need a heavy hitter for fall.

Both category of writer, Bachner explains, closely models two types of readers.

Paralleling the former type of writer, Bachner says:

I have acquaintances who are successful readers. They buy a new hardback book once a month, sometimes at the kind of chain bookstore I boycott, and they read it and like it. Or, they read it and think it’s “okay, although I haven’t gotten to the end,” and they recommend it anyway, and they don’t feel the urge to die of boredom. It is usually a New York Times Notable Book. This little system of production and consumption also brings us room fresheners that are not safe for homes with pet birds, happy pills that cause liver failure, processed ham from tortured pigs, and movies like You’ve Got Mail.

[AHA the last line is priceless! Who is this woman and why hasn't the New Yorker called yet? But seriously, aren't their more recent examples of terrible movies than You've Got Mail, like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past? I haven't seen it but it has Matthew McConaughey in it! Yick!]

Moving on, about unsuccessful readers, we hunger for the next literary marvel, the type that will knock our socks off with turns of phrase, blow off the top of our head with its stone-cold assertions about who we are and leave us thinking long after the last page, our sub-conscious turning its contents over and over, processing and reshaping, making notes and filing things away.

OR we just want a sizzling, juicy gripper of a novel that will keep us up way late into the night, glued to its surfaces during car rides, subway rides, lunch breaks, any free moment that the day can offer.

The individual with reader's block finds themselves instead continually confronted with the most boring, the most insultingly-marketed, the most vapid of tomes meant to pass as weighty reflections on us here and now OR just as hot beach reads. Says Bachner:

It’s all about writing something labored, writing under duress, writing something that doesn’t want or need to be born...Your production/consumption team pretends along with you, giving your book the Pultizer Prize, writing that it’s a “tour de force” on its flyleaf. It’s only us failed readers who are scared. We want to scream, “That isn’t a real baby!”

My name is B and I have reader's block. I have successfully read and identified many the fake baby.

This is the diagnosis, the cure must be to read a book of epically awesome awesome-ness. Know any?

Via Bookslut

Thanks for EvilxElf at deviantART for Book Lover (or hater, depending)

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