Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Abandon

I was interested to read in an old NY Times article (2008) that Isabel Fonseca abandoned a non-fiction book about Uruguay and her family history there.

The piece explained Fonseca began to feel intimidated “because of how some of her family had reacted to a memoir included in the collection “Bruno Fonseca: the Secret Life of Painting,” published after her brother’s death from AIDS in 1994. “Some people didn’t like it,” she said. “There was a lot of ‘It wasn’t like this, it wasn’t like that.’ I thought I had been very straight, so it startled me and inhibited me tremendously.”

It piqued my interest because of Fonseca’s first book “Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journey” and the research that book entailed. The abandoned family history book was beset then by a pre-emptative assumption of how it would fail to be authentic to what took place. Failure whether it’s confirmed by the writer or created by the general atmosphere around the writer can often be a new departure point for the writer in my experience.

But it also reminds me of another assumption where it’s quite the opposite: that of what is contained in a book and what that book must surely be and amount to, without having read the book. Read the book before you zip up the sleeping bag on it. Even a chunk of it.

Yesterday I returned to a novel for a sixth reading and was delighted to discover a particular strand that had floated over my head during the previous 5 readings.

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