Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Thalia Field: Bird Lovers, Backyard

I have been reading Thalia Field’s book Bird Lovers, Backyard and find its form most compelling. I appreciate how in this interview with the Seneca Review Thalia Field describes the role of, and her approach to, questions/questioning, form and thinking. For a long while I’ve thought about how new forms might emerge for non-fiction, essay and memoir. It’s exciting to see this happen in Field’s approach. I like the idea of essay through fragments. And how Field arranges the individual fragments or pieces and allows them to speak to each other rather than insisting they trenchantly  follow each other. Accumulation is the approach I suppose, a kind of folding in and out, and even within a fragment she has this technique of folding something in subtly, that as you catch its ding … you marvel at.

Thalia Field: “I would say that I am among those writers who say
“I think through writing” and in the practice of keeping an open
mind, the writing comprises an essai. Sometimes the thinking is
more argumentative than other times, sometimes more playful and
without purpose. Sometimes the questions I’m thinking through
require a lot of outside voices, languages, testimony imported from
other ways of asking. Sometimes I think through a question simply
to explore it, lose myself around it. When a question is particularly
full of “actors”, the polyvocality can feel unresolvable but offers fresh
hearing. Thinking through things can require a lot of approaches to
form, a lot of associative logic, and that’s where genres come and
go. To me, theater, fiction, essay, it’s all essentially a matter of what
helps watch the question, play with the contradictions, wonder at
connections and dissolutions. I’m interested in how minds change,
but not necessarily in changing them. I think that’s the essence
of essai, as Montaigne saw it, to find connections and wander in
questions, to watch thinking as it works.”

You can read the entire interview here

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