"Survivors of the Holocaust, who should really have been my natural readers, did not read my book." Aharan Appelfeld, Table For One: Under the Light of Jerusalem
I spent the day working. I have seven pages to type, after this blog, then let is rest over night til morning. No news via email or USPS.
I spent the morning with Appelfeld. I turn to this book when I need some companionship on the journey. I am often lonely.
My natural readers are: Navajos, Women of Color, African Americans, Mexicans, Lesbians, San Franciscans, Alcoholics and children of alcoholics.
Many would say I tend to read outside of nature: Beckett, Stein, Kundera, Appelfeld, Doestoyevsky, James, Didion, and Broch. (Obviously Silko, Morrison, Welch, Garcá Márquez and Louis stand inside it.)
That is to misunderstand: everything.
What draws me to these writers is not their biographies. I pray my own biography is not what attracts or repulses readers from my work. The work, when done right, is larger than the worker.
The effort to produce work that sells, often requires you to define your market (the ineloquent equivalent of audience).
In Kundera's latest collection of essays, Encounter, he reprints his 1995 "No Celebration" written and published "in the Frankfurter Rundschau together with other pieces celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the birth of cinema."
Film he writes is "the principal agent of stupidity (incomparably more powerful than the bad literature of old: advertisements, television series); and. . .the agent of worldwide indiscretion (cameras secretly filming political adversaries in compromising situations, immortalizing the pain of a half-naked woman laid out on a stretcher after a street bombing."
Film art exits, but "its significance is far more limited than that of film as technology."
He continues: "I experienced for the first time a sensation I never felt in Czechoslovakia, even in the worst Stalinist years: the sense that we have come to the era of post-art, in a world where art is dying becuase the need for art, the sensitivity and the love for it, is dying."
My audience does not appreciate art. My audience needs art: they need art's uncertainties and astonishment. Like Gadda's work seeking to embrace the universe—creation—my audience will follow a novel as it is called into being.
In writing I know I may (if I am fortunate and disciplined) go somewhere and never come back. My audience is willing to go with me, the characters leading us with their language (which may not be our own), and with their vision (which may remain accessible to us only after several twists of spirit). Stupidity is a worldwide indiscretion manifest in many novels, each sharing an underlying narrator. I am not her.