Inside and Out
At a writing conference two summers ago, one of my workshop teachers, in making his points, referred, over and over, to To Kill a Mockingbird. It became clear that he knew the book inside and out, that he had read it many times. It was very impressive and the impression became, for me, at least, that he was on similar intimate terms with many other novels. And who knows what, in that, is true or not and perhaps he does know many other books in this way: the structure, the plot, the narrator’s distance from the events in terms of time and emotion, whatever. But what is certainly clear is that it can be helpful, in both teaching to less experienced writers and to yourself, to have one or five novels pretty much down, in your hard drive, for comparing and contrasting purposes. And what I’m really saying here is that yesterday I bought a used copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I haven’t read since I was in the ninth grade, and that it is all so unfamiliar to me so as to be a different book. It’s very good so far.