Here is my second blog as guest editor of Afterword the National Post books blog. (Click the extract to read the whole piece)
We are living at a time when access to and the variety of literature has never been so immediate for many of us. (To gain an understanding of what it is like not to have access to literature see Doris Lessing’s 2007 Nobel lecture, “On Not Winning the Nobel Prize.”)
I have long possessed an innate and unpredictable curiosity which has resulted in either a peripatetic or patchy approach (depending on your point of view) to reading. Increasingly I see reading (when a text engages me) as a collage that includes not just the current book itself but what comes through this work from previous readings of other books and where may I read out from this work, or back to this work.
The access facilitated by technology allows us a wider immediacy in our reading. We can read books beside each other or between each other. We can read them for a paragraph or we can read them for the long exhale. This affords us much more of a sense of a continuum with and of our literature, and this is especially important when considering a local or a national literature.