To have a permeable skin


Edan Lepucki imagines the ideal reader @ The Millions. In the preface to his collection of stories In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, William H. Gass imagines for himself a reader. He will be “skilled and generous with attention, for one thing,” Gass writes, “patient with longeurs, forgiving of every error and the author’s self indulgence, avid for details.” Gass doesn’t stop there: …ah, and a lover of lists, a twiddler of lines. Shall this reader be given occasionally to mouthing a word aloud or wanting to read to a companion in a piercing library whisper? yes; and shall this reader be one whose heartbeat alters with the tense of the verbs? that would be nice… If You're Not Yet Like Me
Eventually, Gass conjures a reader without a body: only lips for mouthing the words, and eyes for reading them, and perhaps a finger to hold down the page. “Let’s imagine such a being, then,” Gass writes. “And begin. And then begin.” I’ve shown this passage to students before asking them to create their own ideal readers. Most new writers don’t like to imagine anyone actually reading their work–the idea is either preposterous or terrifying, or both–and this exercise forces them to do just that. From now on, there is an audience. An ideal reader, thankfully, is interested in what you’re interested in, delights in what you delight in, and thus reads your work eagerly, and with more