Discussion → a few thoughts on Ann Bogle's work

  • Self_portrait.thumb
    eamon byrne
    Jun 30, 04:30am

    I, I, I. Everywhere you look, all these I’s. But not much, really, that’s about the I. Why? I suspect a couple of reasons. One might be that most of us prefer to speak from behind a pseudo I-mask which protects us from exposure. It’s a tactic which allows a great deal of freedom to talk about stuff without straying into personal danger. The difficulty or otherwise of the material becomes a non-issue. A second reason might be that made-up fiction (as opposed to autobiography) allows a far wider array of style options. The autobiographical writer who can combine these two qualities – honesty and style innovation – is therefore interesting.

    Of the writing on this site, Ann Bogle’s work must by these criteria qualify as being definitely that - interesting.

    I haven’t read enough of it to say that it consistently achieves these two qualities I mentioned. I have only my impressions to go by, so am prefacing them with an enormous imho. Nevertheless, I trust my impressions. So what I think about her work is this: It is personal. It is honest. Above all, it pays no heed to fashion. I haven’t been reading it for its postmodern rhetoric. There isn’t any.

    With Ann’s work, it’s mainly in the detail, but not the descriptive detail of plotcentric narration or adjectival descriptions. It’s rather the detail of obsessiveness, self-obsession even. (I like her picture pose – it’s an analogue of her prose.) Maybe that accounts for another thing about her stuff. It’s compressed. It doesn’t pause over anything – certainly not to explain or embellish. (What poetry there is is beneath the surface and you have to dig for it.) The material which is essentially her past goes by in a slight rush, if anything. One might call it an associative, scattered sort of effect. An accretional effect.

    Reading her work, you believe she was there.

    But enough of praise already.

    Except this more. You can’t help noticing a writer’s single mindedness in exposing the self as an autobiographical creature, with no sense or bother to differentiate between one detail and another, as though it really mattered, this subjective rendering of the self. As though it mattered not to fudge the truth. Well, maybe it does matter. And but maybe it’s not a series of throw away lines either. Maybe that’s the illusion of it, the trick. The trick of not flowing along poetically fancy but the exposure nonetheless both solid and stolid, out there but for all that non-trumpeting. The I in it both person and persona. But if you were to accuse such a writer of being an egoist you’d have to own up to the same fault yourself, probably. In any case you’d have to read it all and I suspect you’d be taking something of a risk to do so for you’d have to bear with the constant travails of the life within described. It might be even more wearing to read if it had what this sort of writing has, enough of the downright disdain for literary conventions to make itself seem the more real.

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