What is Slow Reading?

Library users may wonder about one of our newest reading groups: Slow Reading. “Slow reading describes my practice of looking at a text very closely in order to appreciate nuances of language and hence of meaning,” says Ellen Lambert, author (The Face of Love: Feminism and the Beauty Question) and White Plains resident, who holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale University. Lambert taught literature at Manhattan’s Dalton School for over 25 years (and intends to start a tutoring service for high school students.)

“In our discussions of short fiction, we often read particular passages out loud. We then examine them in detail and consider how they relate to the story's larger structure. It’s also a way of honoring the beauty of a particular author’s writing.”

Lambert, who is finishing her own book on slow reading, says that the term “invokes what the ‘New Critics’ of the 1940s and 1950s called ‘Close Reading.’ But with this term I also want to signal my affinity with the contemporary ‘Slow Food’ movement, because great art, like a great meal, nourishes us in so many ways.”

“Slow Reading” is in its second season at the Library, and Lambert started the fall session with stories largely culled from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. September meetings delved into works by the late Flannery O’Connor and Tim O’Brien.

Coming on Monday, October 29, are two works from Joyce Carol Oates: “Convalescing” and “How I Contemplated the World…” as well as Margaret Atwood’s “Stone Mattress” which is available at newyorker.com/magazine/2011/12/19.

The remaining four meetings this fall and winter will feature the writing of Irish novelist and master of the short story form William Trevor (1928-2016), drawn from his Selected Stories. Here is the Trevor portion of the schedule:

⧫  November 19: “Timothy’s Birthday” (1992) and “Gilbert’s Mother” (2011)

⧫  December 3: “After Rain” (1995) and “Cheating at Canasta” (2007)

⧫  December 17: “Against the Odds” (1999) and “Justina’s Priest” (2002)

⧫  January 7, 2019: “Lost Ground” (1992) and “The Mourning” (1993)

Both The Norton anthology and Selected Stories by William Trevor are available to borrow at the Library.

The Monday programs are from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the Library’s first-floor Community Room (next to the café), and they will resume in the spring with George Saunders as the featured author. For further information, email ellenzlambert@gmail.com.

 

 

Steve Cohn

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