The Morning News is currently running Super Rooster, a variant of their annual Tournament of Books. In the Super, they’re taking the winners of 16 years of the Tournament, and bracketing them against each other…with “celebrity” writers picking the winners. The competition isn’t really the point; it’s all about the juxtaposition of titles and what’s revealed in the judge’s choices…
All of which is a roundabut way to bring you to this bit from Will Chancellor (author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall, which I have yet to read), in his impossible task of choosing between Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy:
I read for images rendered so closely that they overtake the visual part of the imagination and recruit feeling. Think Annie Dillard’s tree with the lights in it (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek), Alice Oswald’s little girl tugging at her mother’s dress and wanting only to be lifted on a hip (Memorial), or Virginia Woolf’s doomed moth struggling against the enormity of death (“The Death of the Moth”). Think of a strawberry containing summer storms in The Bluest Eye, or a sleep “more tranquil than the curve of eggs” in Sula, or a ghost child’s tiny handprints in a cake in Beloved. This is the world seen and related with full attention. We zoom in until we can’t get any closer and then, click, on comes the feeling vision, allowing us to fully inhabit what we’re reading. This is every shot in every Malick movie. This is what I think it means to wonder.
I read a good amount of fiction; more than most, but not as much as others. I read for the stories, for the voices, for the escape, for getting lost in another world. For “the feeling vision.”
(Chancellor picked A Mercy, by the way.)