Rich’s conclusion (which I agree with) is that the public/private elements of reading need not be mutually exclusive, at least until the dawn of a DeLilloan nightmare, when mass-reading groups assemble in a single room like a bunch of Moonies tying the knot. Rich introduces Matthew Bucher, who runs an online discussion group for David Foster Wallace Fans called “Wallace-L.” While Bucher is a clear example of the modern reader—interested in making connections and building communities—he also values the solitude that reading provides: “I still read the book at home at night by myself with one lamp.”
by Motoko Rich
Published January 23, 2010
Communal reading can also help for books that are challenging to approach on your own. How many people actually got through “Ulysses” outside of a college class? Matthew Bucher, a textbook editor in Austin, Tex., who administers “Wallace-L,” an online discussion group for fans of David Foster Wallace, said that the expertise of mathematicians, linguists and other fans sharing insights with the online group vastly improved his reading of “Infinite Jest.”
That doesn’t stop Mr. Bucher from having a deeply intimate relationship with books. “I still read the book at home at night by myself with one lamp,” he said. “The next day it does enhance my experience to talk about it.”
I’m leading a group read of Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 over at my blog Bolanobolano.com
You can also follow the conversation on the bolano-l mailing list.
The project got a nice write-up yesterday in the LA Times Jacket Copy blog.