Pay no attention to the facsimiles of the writer that appear on talkshows, in newspaper interviews, and the like -- they out not to have anything to do with what goes on between you, the reader, and the page you are reading, where an invisible hand has previously left some marks for you to decipher, much as one of John le Carré's dead spies has left a water-logged shoe with a small packet in it for George Smiley.

Every book is for someone. The act of writing may be a solitary, but it is always a reach toward another person--a single person--since every book is read alone. The writer does not know for whom she writes. The reader's face is invisible, and yet, every sentence inscribed on a page represents a bid for contact and a hope for understanding.