Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Perfect Reader

Maggie Pouncey's Perfect Reader is a magnificent read....I absolutely loved the writing. Flora is an only child. Her parents divorced years ago, but she can recall vividly many events that occurred when they were still a family. After her father's death, Flora returns to the small town she was raised in, the town where her father served as the president at its small college and still taught. Once back in her hometown, Flora is confronted with information about her father's life that she had never known : he had a girlfriend!, and he also penned a collection of poems that Flora is the executor of. Flora is not very open to Cynthia, the woman her father had been dating, especially after it is discovered that the poems her father left Flora to be in charge of are actually only copies and Cynthia holds the originals. All of a sudden it becomes apparent that Flora was not the focus of her fathers' life. His poems barely hint at her, instead the poems are a love letter of a sort to Cynthia. With this new realization Flora also begins to grow up, recognizing for the first time that her father's life is separate from her own.

Pouncy's writing, as I mentioned was wonderful. It is the type of writing I want to savor and hold onto, that I can think about for a while.

"We readily accepted that there were no perfect fathers or daughters or lovers. But we persisted in thinking history might give a writer in the fullness of time a perfect reader; or, on the other side, the scholar's fantasy that he could understand, see, know a book, a poem, as all others had failed to see before. We saw so little, so wrongly, with the people in front of us, and yet with words on a page, we fooled ourselves that we could get it right. If Flora knew anyone, it was her parents. She had studied them in that academic way children learn their parents. She wa the world's living expert on her father. Ready with the footnotes, a thoroughly cross-referenced index: the boarding school years, the Yale years, the Rhodes years, the city interlude, and the Darwin recapitulation and coda. And yet, did such scrutiny and research make her his perfect reader? Looking closely did not mean seeing truly. In fact, it might mean reading wrongly - magnifying glasses distort- everything writ large. And then there was all she did not know, all he'd kept from her. How little she factored in. She, his own daughter. Barely a footnote in his journal (161)."

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