Author Topic: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers  (Read 718 times)

Mark Steels Stockbroker

  • Lost in the former West
Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« on: July 25, 2018, 11:31:18 PM »
Got a big boost earlier this year with a new volume of uncollected works, but some of us have been reading them for years.

(Spam)

Also Christine Brooke-Rose is relevant now:

(Spam)
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 08:10:33 AM by Barry Admin »

buttgammon

  • You can't trust a man what's made of gas
Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2018, 10:20:45 AM »
The Unmapped Country is a very good collection indeed - some of the cut-up type pieces haven't aged well, but Quin really was an amazing writer. The longer pieces in that collection are up there with Three and Berg.

I'm planning on writing something about B.S. Johnson and James Joyce, so I'm revisiting Johnson at the moment. The Jonathan Coe biography is amazing, it's quite possibly the best biography of a writer ever written (with Ellmann's Joyce biography, of course).

Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2018, 03:23:06 AM »
Eva Figes is an author who often crops up on those lists of 60's experimentalists, but unlike Christine Brooke-Rose and Alan Burns, her books still crop up in charity shops for pennies. Recently I read her novella Ghosts, which was good, but reminded me a little of the comment in Coe's book that Johnson was less interesting when he was trying to be the heir to Beckett, and more essential when he was documenting working-class London culture. Ghosts is a very good novella about middle-class angst, which is weakened quite a bit by being set in a Beckettian no-place instead of being somewhere specific. Details are unnaturally withheld, for no real reason except that's what's done in experimental novels.

buttgammon

  • You can't trust a man what's made of gas
Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2018, 09:48:16 AM »
Never actually read any of Figes' stuff but I've been meaning to for years. I think you (and Coe) are on to something about Johnson's sense of place v. that Beckettian anti-place; Beckett has got there first, after all, and I think Johnson was at his best when he stopped clinging to the master's coattails anyway.

Of course, Beckett was surprisingly good at creating a sense of place too, particularly in Murphy, but I'm also thinking of his radio play All That Fall, which is brilliantly evocative of the suburban Dublin he grew up in.

Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2018, 11:40:51 AM »
I love Leonora Carrington's art (great doc on that side of her here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxEF1bjgt5Q): she's our best surrealist.  But her books are really lovely, too, and much more vulnerable than other surrealist writers, peopled as they are with extremely old and frail women, or abused wives, while still keeping her chin up as she was a doughty lady.

Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 01:22:53 AM »
I read Days by Eva Figes a long time ago. It's about a woman in a hospital bed. Very bleak.

Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2018, 10:57:07 AM »
I read Days by Eva Figes a long time ago. It's about a woman in a hospital bed. Very bleak.
Not read it, but that sounds like the logical conclusion of attempting to ape Beckett's late style- writing about someone who is stationery, inert, defeated. A shrunken vision of life. Maybe the dour voice of Larkin, and the timid soliloquy of Eliot's Prufrock encouraged authors into thinking that was the way to write.

Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 11:01:25 AM »
RE: Ann Quin, I like the anecdote about her that she entered a writing competition run by JG Ballard, where the challenge was to write a short story under the influence of drugs, and she wrote hers while on the Pill. Not read the story, though, is it about anywhere?


Of her books, I think Three is quite a lot better than Berg, the dialogue is so realistic. 

Queneau

  • That was a joke. That's all it was, it was a joke.
Re: Ann Quin and other British "experimental" writers
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 11:32:19 PM »
I'm planning on writing something about B.S. Johnson and James Joyce, so I'm revisiting Johnson at the moment. The Jonathan Coe biography is amazing, it's quite possibly the best biography of a writer ever written (with Ellmann's Joyce biography, of course).

It really is a great piece of work that biography. Coe was kind enough to speak to me when I was writing my dissertation on Albert Angelo (I say speak it was via email). I took the view that Johnson needed to return to the novel after "disintegration" to kill off Albert to kind of prove his point whereas Coe thought Johnson shouldn't have returned.

I constantly return to Johnson when talking about telling stories and trying to accommodate the chaos of them.