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 third season at the Library, and Lambert started the spring session with stories largely culled from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. The January meeting delved into works by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Coming on Monday, February 11, are two works from Edgar Allan Poe: “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Purloined Letter.”

The remaining meetings will include more readings from the anthology, and later sessions will feature the writings of George Saunders, drawn from his Tenth of December: Stories. Here is the spring schedule:

⧫  February 11: “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe

⧫  February 25: “Royal Beatings” and “Miles City, Montana” by Alice Munro

⧫  March 11: “A Wall of Fire Rising” and “Sunrise, Sunset” by Edwidge Danticat

⧫  March 25: “A Conversation between George Saunders and David Sedaris” (Tenth of December pp. 255-72) and “Puppy” and “Home” by George Saunders

⧫  April 8: “Escape from Spiderhead” and “My Chivalric Fiasco” by George Saunders

⧫  April 29: “Exhortation” and “The Semplica Girl Diaries” by George Saunders

⧫  May 13: “Al Roosten” and “The Tenth of December” by George Saunders

Both The Norton anthology and Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders 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). For further information, email ellenzlambert@gmail.com.



Steve Cohn

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