‘The hardest habit to break, since it was the habit of a lifetime, would be listening to myself listening to him’. These were Wideman’s words in the story ‘Our time’. Throughout the story, one gets to know the character of the protagonists and relate with him and his feelings. The author has used a lot of imagery and very attractive words with deep meanings to tell his story. He may mean one thing but the reader reads another thing into the meaning. When he said ‘listening to himself listen’, he could have been meaning a number of things. Yet, what the phrase loosely translates to is that Wideman used to listen to his thoughts. The quietness and solicitude that he used to love would be what he used to listen to himself listen. Thus, he was more creative when he considered his thoughts when he was alone. Writers are usually more creative when there is silence and nobody is disturbing them. That is what Wideman meant when he said what he said about listening to himself. Only then would he be more creative.
There are a number of sections where Wideman is speaking to the reader directly. For example, when he is talking about Gath and their love for whisky, he says ‘hey you, we got to drink to Gath one last time’. That is a direct reference to the reader. The aim of the author is to invite the participation of the reader and make him or her feel like a contributor to the story. This captures the attention of the reader. To be honest, the reader should not be surprised with what Wideman says as he makes direct references to them. I personally was not surprised. I could have been if he did not make those references and invite my participation. In fact I would have been disappointed. Whenever this technique of writing is used, the reader always becomes more attentive to what the writer is saying. Direct referencing is a very good technique to use when writing a story. Attention is captured and the reader feels more involved in what the author is saying. Whenever I got areas where Wideman used direct references to me, I became more alert. I began reading with keener about his story. The story of ‘our time’ consequently became more interesting since I was a part of the story.
Wideman calls attention to the problems he faces. Some he solves through drinking while others he solves by directly facing them. Yes, I am sympathetic to him for some of the problems he is facing, but not all. This is because some are his faults. Some of his solutions do not work. But some work. A good example of the solutions that do not work is when he tries to solve a problem by drinking excess whisky. I learnt a lot from his methods of problem solving. For example, I learnt that people resort to drinking as a result to the solutions of their problems whenever they do not have any other alternative. Nevertheless, drinking, as I came to learn, is never the solution to any problem. In fact, somebody add more problems because they use money. When Wideman talked about Garth, this is what he meant.
Bartholomae, David, David Bartholomae, and Tony Petrosky. Resources for Teaching Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. Print.