WRITING AND READING: For What Purpose Beyond Enjoyment?

Richard Ford, writer of “Independence Day, “Canada,” and other fine novels, has said that his purpose in writing is to find a use for everything he knows. I’d like to think this means that a writer wants to examine things he is familiar with, that have been important to him, and share them with readers in the hope that, like the writer himself, they would gain from it. Is that not a fine way to think of the relationship between writer and reader?

The usefulness lies in the transmission of something important – an insight, a new understanding of what lies beneath things that happen, a sense of connection – from writer to reader. In a sense, it’s a form of conversation. It is what I’d like to talk about here.

When you read or write a story that matters to you, does something like that happen? What novel or short story has resonated with you recently in that way?

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