The comments, as Aubry points out, pose a special problem for a writer like Morrison who (in the paradoxical manner of many “highbrow” writers) claims to value inclusivity and tolerance even as she fills her novels with textual mysteries likely to defeat the enthusiasm of the common reader. And it is symptomatic that the author, aided by Winfrey, responds to the complaint, and others like it, by stressing that the difficulty of the book has a therapeutic purpose—namely, to help the reader deal with disorientation, and confusion, in life. “You have to open yourself,” Winfrey tells the woman, “It’s like a life experience. It’s getting to know people, getting to know people in a town. It’s not everything laid out.”
I read that in literate circles it’s become fashionable for seventy something year-old novelists to announce that they’ve given up reading fiction. Phillip Roth just has.
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