Monday, July 26, 2010

No such thing as a Perfect Reader

Maggie Pouncey's debut novel, "Perfect Reader," is a delight.

The story centers on Flora Dempsey, recently named literary executor of her late father's work. She's quit her job to return to the small town of her youth, home to the college he was once president of.

It's time for Flora to come to terms with events of her childhood and her relationship with her divorced parents.

But it's not the typical coming-to-terms.

As her mother says, "This culture of forgiveness, of acceptance, of living in the present - who needs it? Isn't the very thing that makes us human the fact that we need not live only in the present? That we straddle time with our minds? That we hold on? If there were one word I could strike from the English language it would be closure."

Don't you read that, pause, and say, How true?

(See, I'm not just a hoarder of things, but of experiences and moments and conversations, most wonderful, some less so.)

There are a lot of those pauses in this novel.

And there's much for a reader to chew on.

In Flora's quest to decide what to do with her father's works, she who had thought herself his perfect reader leaves much for us non-perfect readers to think about.

What is the author's relationship to the reader? Can we as readers see something in a work that no others have seen before us?


- Tricia Ambrose

And P.S. to Cheryl and Danielle, I think I have some Sweet Valley High books for you!


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