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Brief Thought — the Voyeurism of Reading and the Desire for Autobiography

Now, I like a juicy memoir just as much as the next person — and more than some, I’m sure. However, this review of Jamaica Kincaid’s new novel, See Now Then, published in Monday’s New York Times, seems to exemplify our least sophisticated — and our most voyeuristic — readerly impulses: the tendency to read novels — especially first novels (though, given that this is far from Kincaid’s first kick at the can, that’s an entirely different post) — as autobiographical. And, not only that, but to insist upon that reading in the face of the author’s denial, as though the reviewer is hoping for some dark revelation.