Once a year I read Al Alvarez‘s The Writer’s Voice. I do this because in the second half of the year I teach a class in long form journalism to media studies honours and final-year BJourn students and it’s one of the few books available that actually talk about voice in writing. Alvarez thinks about what voice is and why it matters for writing, writers, reading and readers. So I go back to it again and again to take students through this part of the course. This year I thought I’d jot down my notes on what Alvarez has to say because the rereading always provokes me to think differently about what he says.
This time around what caught my attention was that reading is so very much a listening (and this feeds into my research interests in voice and listening — see my work on academia.edu and at the mediaandcitizenship blog). One really does hear a voice in one’s head when reading and what that voice sounds like — “its presence on the page” — is a quality that is more than the story being told. It might be voice that keeps one bonded to a particular author and not just extraordinary writing ability, technique or style (all of which Alvarez is clear are not quite the voice). Continue reading “Voice in multiple voices”