Close Reading

Close reading has been my job for a long time now—I teach literature and history—and it can mean a very formal way to observe the structure of a poem, a novel, an essay, an image. In that way it’s a method of analysis. But it also suits me as a method that goes far beyond the page and into life.

Close reading means small things get my attention: a sentence, the shape of a paragraph, a scuff on the basement door, the light on the dining table, a book re-read (although probably only partially). Close reading is the method for everything I write, and really, how I live. It’s what draws me to disassemble ideas, connect experience to memory, and to write about things as varied as collages, photojournalism, and museums.

I’ll be re-reading closely here, now, about essays and things I come across that warrant a closer look.