Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Familiar and the Un-Familiar: Making You Think About the Way We Read

So I love, love, love this book! It took me a bit but I loved the format changes (other than the killing of the tress (the poor trees)) after I realized some strategies on how to read them. What I do first is read the section, just for reading sakes, to enjoy the story and enjoy the silliness of the format. After I read the section I set the book down, take some ibphrofane and think about what made me uncomfortable.
Looking at the sections that made me uncomfortable I ask myself, why? Why does this give me a headache? Why am does this make me so uncomfortable? The answer seems to always be that I am not used to the format, that is book goes against everything I have learned since I started reading. This isn't a mistake by the author, he intends to make you uncomfortable. He intends to make us as readers question what we consider the rules of reading to be and what a book makes up in total. This could be seen as pretentious, that a writer believes he has such a firm grasp on writing and that  a normal narrative is boring to him, but I don't think that this is the case with book. I think it's a mixture of fun for the author as well as a chance to make the reader feel uncomfortable. The discomfort makes us pause and look critically at books format and how we read.
One of the things that the author plays with is authorial power and legitimacy. The term "author" has significant weight and power that goes along with it. "Published" itself has some loftiness to it, especially when it comes to undergraduate college students. Individuals who are "authors"  do have a certain amount of authority given to them, that they are the experts on a certain subject, especially on the subject they are writing on. Therefore footnotes and explanations are often trusted, wither its truthful or not. Mark points this out in his own footnotes are untruthful, that he makes up information or that the footnotes themselves truly mean nothing to the story. This makes us question other authors and published works.
The second thing that the author plays with is narrator. We as readers give certain trust to the narrator to give us information a timely fashion, not to interrupt the flow of the story (especially in a framed narrative) and to keep side stories in check. We often have a unreliable narrator (One example being The Murder of Roger Ackyord) but there is always a truthful narrator somewhere in the mix. In this story we are given not one but three unreliable narrators. One is a crazy dead man, another a criminal and the third is an editor, not a very trustworthy bunch. So after reading this book I read something I am reading for pleasure, "Aesop's Fables". I found myself questions the narrator and wondering who exactly was speaking to me; the editor, the crazy dead man, or the criminal.
I love that this book is making me look at expected english truths critically, especially in my senior english class.

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