by Jessie Roberts
Diane Mehta describes “reader’s block,” or the inability to read the work of others while she was writing her own book:
It’s difficult to read while immersed in writing a novel. If you’re stuck to your book as purposefully as you’re supposed to be stuck to it, it makes no sense to commit yourself to someone else’s book. It’s distracting. You have your own characters to consider. (At least, that’s what we tell ourselves, glumly.) I became sure of this when I tried Philip Roth and found he just turned my writing into bitterness and dense frenzy, which I liked, but which I quickly realized would harm my sentences. His, so calculated, would strong-arm mine and I would be the loser, with flaccid sentences that tried to be hard. Roth stayed on the shelf.