Ideal Reading Conditions, 2016
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Have you read it?
I read the entire book in less than a day. It's described as a story about a mother and daughter, but it's really about so much more. It's about a woman's soul, which comes through in her story telling.
I photographed the title page in dappled front yard light, which seemed to match Lucy Barton's story telling perfectly. I recall all of these things as if Lucy Barton actually told this story, as if it is not a work of fiction written by Elizabeth Strout. Why? Because it is how I feel. I don't really want to believe otherwise.
Part of me can't help but wonder how Elizabeth Strout did it. Did she know someone like Lucy Barton? Did this Lucy Barton friend share her story with Elizabeth Strout, and did Elizabeth Strout then write the story down in a way that would get it published? Did Elizabeth Strout fabricate the entire story? Maybe Elizabeth Strout is Lucy Barton in more ways than she is not.
As a writer I am curious about the writer's inspiration. As a reader I am not, I do not care. It is Lucy Barton's story, I need not know more.
I'm always a reader first, while reading. I do not think this is the case for all writers. Some writers read through writer's eyes, and I think this is a shame. I'm tempted to go so far as to call this a misuse of reading material, and if not a misuse, then definitely a missing out on the intended use of the material that, if the writing is good, would certainly be far more gratifyingly read as a reader.
Read My Name Is Lucy Barton as a reader, no matter who you are. You have every right to disagree with me, but if you do, keep it to yourself.