Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interview with Jenny Boully

1. What was your inspiration for THE BODY? Do you consider THE BODY avant-garde?

I was inspired by the use of form in several issues of the "Seneca Review" and "Conjunctions" that I was reading at the time. I was also inspired by the amount of reading that I was doing. I had a story to tell, certainly, but I wasn't sure how to tell that story. I thought I would use footnotes and then tell the story later, but that never happened. So, the footnotes became annotations to something inferred, imagined, sensed, and the blank pages were born.

I don't think I consider the book to be avant-garde--my knowledge of that movement is quite limited, so my answer isn't fully researched. I wouldn't like to say that my work is this or that only because I have a hard time turning critic on myself or my work. But I do enjoy reading what others make of it.

2. Craig Dworkin's words on the back of your book say this "may or may not be a love letter, a dream, a spiritual atobiography, a memoir, a scholarly digression, a treatise on the relation of life to book." Can you shed any more light on this subject? Is THE BODY any, or a combination of any, of these things?

The quoted passage above isn't from Dworkin, actually. But it's funny that you should mention it--there's a little secret in small press publishing: a lot of jacket copy is written by the author herself, and in this case, I wrote what you've quoted above. So, yes, I feel as if the book is all of these.

3. Is THE BODY based on an actual essay that you, or someone else, have written, or is it based entirely on an idea that has never been written?

The Body is based on what was my life at the time. So it is autobiographical. I left out the actual story, of course, but I feel as if I give so much of it away in the footnotes themselves. I feel as if I've given the right clues and that the astute reader will reconstruct the narrative.

4. What were your thoughts and feelings while writing The Body? Was writing in this style challenging?

The style wasn't challenging, but having to live within a certain "mode" or "tone" was a challenge. You want to wake up and believe that everything is behind you, but you can't quite shake it yet because the book has yet to be written. I was undergoing a change in place, and I was quite lonely and feeling all sorts of out of sorts. I had a few mementos, some letters, and a lot of emptiness. In some ways, that is what The Body is composed of.

5. What do you hope the reader takes away from this work?

I hope the reader takes away the story of a failed love affair, but I also hope that they take away whatever story they constructed, that story they read between the lines--that is, I hope they take away faith in something living in the in-between.

6. What are your impressions of other avant-garde writers and how do you feel this book contributes to the genre and other's understanding of it?

I'm not sure I entirely understand the avant-garde movement or what that entails, never having taken a class or studied it. My reluctance to answer this question has more to do with my ignorance on the subject. I hope you will understand that. Perhaps if I had more time to research I could answer more intelligently.

7. How do you feel about style and its impact on a piece as a whole? Does the style used "make" the piece, or does it simply add to the overall message/impact of the book?

I have always firmly believed--despite what some critics have said in some reviews--that The Body could only exist in the form it is in. The subtext and the text can then be one, so yes, the form is entirely co-dependent on its content. Or maybe what I mean is that the form is content and I couldn't have left it out.

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