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Marilyn Reads

Why Read?

When you read something, what is it that makes you like it?  Is it the topic?  If that is the case then your reading choices are deplorably limited.  After all, our interests are few in a world with an unlimited supply.  Should not reading be an opportunity to escape from the ones we know?  All  reading--serious or otherwise--is a form of escapism, and what we are escaping is ourselves.

Reading is nothing more than a way to explore the unknown.  If the written word fails to tell us something new then it does not deserve our time.  The new can come in many guises, of course; the new idea, the new perspective, the new fact, and--yes--even the new way of saying the same old thing.  Words that repeat something already known are not a form of communication; they are propaganda.

Influences


The two that overshadow all the others are Robert Frost and John McPhee.  The words of Robert Frost are accessible to all.  His voice is that of a kindly grandfather and his messages are simply true.  As for John McPhee--such purity of expression is unique.  His language is so crystalline that the reader sees the subject through clear glass and the author becomes a hidden motive force, invisible but all-powerful.  Although these two are the mentors, there are others who have left their mark.  Tennyson and Coleridge gave romanticism a good name and Conrad did the same for meaningful description.  In the realm of pure writing style, none surpass Annie Dillard, but her standards are to high for me.