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Demo Interepretations

Larry Young has this to say about people’s interpretations of Demo (look for the 11 June entry):

I very much enjoy readers’ interpretations of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan????????s Demo. It????????s interesting to me, personally, that most audience members find the various snapshots of Demo so compelling that it seems, to me at least, that many readers are missing the lemon because of the meringue. Many folks who should ostensibly know better get fixated on the what-happens-then or the but-what-about-the or the he-didn????????t-take-responsibility or whatever. Me, I think they????????re not getting the fact that the story is the story. You????????re on the bus, or you????????re not. No need to blame the bus.

Sure. On the other hand, though, maybe some readers got the lemon and just didn’t think it was very good lemon. The story is the story is the story, but that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have flaws. I thought Demo #6 (the only issue I’ve read) is a pretty good little story, but I was following one discussion that included people who found it unsatisfying, and everybody involved in the dicussion had cogent arguments for their readings of the story. Some readers found the severe disconnect between the frame story and the flashback troubling and annoying. I found it troubling, but I also found that that troubling disconnect was at the center of my reading of the story. (Actually, I found it quite annoying as well, at first, but I changed my mind.) Brian Wood, who participated in the discussion, apparently didn’t intend there to be a troubling disconnect at all. I can see how all three of these interpretations work—I find my own most compelling, certainly, but I can see how the others work. My point: there are lots of ways to read any text, and the ways you don’t care about aren’t irrelevant (even if you are the author or the publisher…).

Jason Kimble also replies to Larry Young, and makes a good point:

Truly impressive writing works on all the applicable levels, or at the very least plays a skilled magician’s game of compelling the reader to focus on the levels that work while failing to notice those that aren’t quite so solidly constructed.

If you haven’t managed that, you haven’t managed it. Playing “you just don’t get it” does no one any good, and just leads to a lot of naked emperors prancing around. While that might make for good porn, it’s not the best way to encourage critical thought and improve your storytelling skills.

Authors can’t choose for readers which parts of the text readers should focus on. If a reader chooses to focus on a part of the text the author considers irrelevant, it’s not that the reader is “fixating” and is “just not getting” it—it’s just that, well, that part isn’t so irrelevant after all.