On reading and the grinding of gears

by look i have opinions

“Reading Dostoevsky has something in common with eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations or lying awake in bed and being unable to sleep.  The voices of the characters and the narrator take on such tones that you are forced to reckon with their annoyances, verbal tics, and syntax until the book is over. I’m trying to make a point beyond just that the characters’ voices are ‘realistic.’  […]  It’s the mode of their realism I’m trying to isolate and describe. Reading a character’s diatribe, a narrator’s description of a character’s shifting mental state, or a complicated seven-way manic-and-drunken argument becomes sort of like trying to integrate a pair of gears without putting in the clutch. Your brain is spinning at one speed, and has one size of teeth on its gears, and then the novel has another. The two touch and spark, you’re pushed away from them for a few sentences (or even paragraphs) then they bump again, and eventually, the two are going at the same speed, become intertwined, and cannot be disconnected.  But then each time you pick up the book, the same process repeats itself.  I suppose you could say the same for all authors, but it’s especially apparent (to me anyway) with Dostoevsky.”

—Josh of the blog Original Positions (in this excellent post)

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