Fiction is my thing probably because I don’t ‘do‘ realism. I’ve read a few biographies over the years, mainly about writers, artists or actors and their journey to stardom, oblivion, wealth, addiction, obsession, madness and so on and often a nasty combination of all of the above. I have noticed that books labouring over one’s stream of consciousness or thoughts on subjects are a growing genre of writing.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Our tutor introduced us to Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts. I’ll admit I’m new to these personal outpourings as opposed to ‘how I made it’ journeys or life stories. Maggie talks about her relationship with the transgender artist Harry Dodge and his three-year-old son who lives with them part-time. Then about Maggie’s IVF, Harry’s top surgery and rounds of testosterone injections and Iggy, their own baby and their campaign to find their place in a binary world, with small wins. I find this ‘private made public’ uncomfortable, self-obsessive, navel-gazing. I’m trying hard to silence that inner critic and just accept the work for what it is – neither fiction nor narrative.
I try harder and make myself read three more. The end of the marriage, self-sufficiency, infertility, motherhood, illness, guilt/self-loathing [a recurring theme], grief and redemption. Again, these books sort of annoy me and I hear myself shouting ‘get over yourself’ well not to Ruth Fitzmaurice because her story is more tangible. I didn’t enjoy it initially. I picked it up every night in bed and feel dissatisfied with the lack of plot or story arc, I wanted it to be a novel but it’s not. So I moved it to the sitting room and picked it up and read the snippets over a number of months and then I loved it, accepting it for what it was. Levy’s and Pine’s books didn’t move me as much, ‘been there, have the t-shirt‘ but now months later, I find they’ve stayed me.
Theatre was my first love. It all started with the One-Act and 3-Act AmDram festivals in our local theatre to get out of the house to smoke cigarettes on school nights. It wasn’t long before I had graduated onto the Class As in the Abbey, Peacock, Project, Tivoli and even more fringe events and locations. It’s physical. Being present with the cast, the crew, the soundscape of mutters, coughs, and gasps from the audience; the dust, the set, the murmur murmur hum before curtain. Pure energy. I can forgive anything — set, direction, costumes, props, performance — except bad writing.
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