One reason I like to read novels is because they give you more freedom than movies do. I may have mentioned this before. Movies do the work for you. Novels let your mind wander and picture what it will. Movies dictate the images you see and the sounds you hear.

A lot of times when I read a novel the action takes place in a setting I’m familiar with. Whenever I read a William Faulkner novel it always happens at my late grandmother’s house. All the characters: Benjy, Sutpen, etc. are all at that house in Johnstown, PA, at the corner on the gravel road up the hill. I don’t know why Faulkner invokes this location in my mind. It isn’t down south. I didn’t spend a lot of time there. But without my even trying, my unconscious mind places the story there.

But this is why reading can feel like work. Because it is. It’s not the passive experience that it looks like. A reader is actively pursuing a state of mind. The words of the narrator are there. Everything else is up for grabs. And a good writer can facilitate a truly enjoyable array of experiences that you can go back to time and time again. I forget where I heard this: a writer puts the notes on the paper, a reader plays them.


© Daniel Douglas


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