Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

The readers’ bargain June 10, 2010

Filed under: Commentary,Literature,Reading,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:02 am
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Fine: if you’re still reading, then I’ll trust we have a bargain. You will not judge—and I will tell the truth. Or at least you will withhold your judgement as far as seems humanly possibly—which is seldom very far—and I will tell as much truth as can reasonably be expected from a man—which is seldom as much as one might hope—and between us we’ll do the best we can. (Ian Weir in Daniel O’Thunder p. 8.)

It is an interesting bargain that is struck between writer and reader. The reader agrees to suspend belief, so long as the writer crafts a believable world. The art is taking the reader on a journey of the imagination that stretches so tightly it almost snaps. When the leap is too great, the reader puts down the book in disgust and may not return to it.

Ian Weir’s Daniel O’Thunder is a lovely book. I don’t want to mislead you into thinking it is full of sweetness and light, because it is a dark book full of poverty, murder, shame and the blackness of evil, but it is beautifully crafted. There is poetry in every line. Weir took me on a journey and surprised me.   His narrator, who breaks the literary equivalent of the ‘4th wall’ to address us throughout the novel, is quite an enigma.  Unreliable narrators are so much more painfully realistic than reliable ones!

Weir’s narrator takes us on a journey, that amid the surprises (and a token ending in BC that seemed all about qualifying for grants or awards!) leads to contemplation of evil and spirituality.  He may break the contract (see what you think!) but he’s too interesting for you to be concerned.

What literary  journeys have you had to abandon? What writer broke the contract and made you so irritated that you couldn’t go on?


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