Not the voices of his characters, like Dickens heard.
Voices of disencouragement. Familial: His mother’s voice. “Why must you do this?” His father’s voice. “Do this and you’ll be sorry.” His sister’s voice. “This going to kill Mom.” But strangers’ voices too. Like porn star Ron Jeremy’s voice and Adolph Hitler’s voice. He hears dead writers’ voices. Live writers’ voices. Committees of voices.
My favorite of his voices is the New York Times Book Review Voice:
I don’t know what this is, but I know what it isn’t; it isn’t the voice of the author’s generation, it isn’t an important new work, it isn’t a bold new voice, it isn’t the future of American fiction, and it doesn’t limn anything; I’ve read it twice now, and it doesn’t limn a fucking thing.
But I also like the Huffington Post poster’s voice:
I didn’t like this very much, not as much as I like Wittgenstein, and I didn’t like the last thing he did either, or the thing before that. I went to college. I think he should write more about Palestinians. Why doesn’t he write more about Palestinians? You know who I’ve read? Wittgenstein. That was in college, where I went. I have a book I wrote, and it’s better than this, much better, but of course the publishing industry is too afraid of it and so they won’t publish it because they’re scared of it, I scare them, but soon the dead-tree industries will be gone and we won’t be subjected to books like this and we’ll get better books, that aren’t this. Books like mine. (Insert irritating, desperately hip quotation signature line here.)
For all the voices Auslander hears urging him to quit when he’s trying to write, read his whole column at The Tablet.
Hat tip to the Bookslut.