Zoe Pilger’s educational background was my initial pull, not the Undergraduate degree at Cambridge, but the Goldsmiths connection. It’s an alumni thing most likely. I have an expectation of what I’m going to read when I see this; hopefully raw, visceral writing with a unique sense of voice, that I long to capture in my own writing… Pilger definitely does not disappoint. Ann-Marie,The twenty three year protagonist of her debut ‘Eat My Heart Out’, is somebody I would quite like to punch in the face. Her self-obsessed, naïve and down right precocious view made me despise her from the first page when she meets Vic at 5am in the morning outside Smithfield Market. From the beginning through to the end, I want to shake her, tell her to get a grip, to not waste herself ridiculous ill thought out choices and grow a backbone. But it’s this frustration with Ann-Marie that lures the reader in. You hope beyond hope that she’s going to pull herself together and start behaving like an adult and find a sense of normality in her quite frankly fucked up world, you start to trust that Pilger is not going to just leave her in the middle of the city, still throwing herself full frontal at inappropriate situations. But just like in life there are no happy fairtytale endings, and that is what Pilger seems to be wanting to leave you thinking…. life is your mother, experience is what will make, you eventually grow up – the final page giving you a glimmer of hope that Ann-Marie has managed to begin the climb out of her box of self-absorption.
But Ann-Marie isn’t the biggest draw. It’s Pilger and her writing. As I said before, I was expecting gutsy, hard edged raw prose but I wasn’t expecting the elegance of the writing itself. Sentences that’s are so intricately crafted to make them so damn perfect reminding me of the tiny intricate stitching you find in tapestries. So impressed was I that I kept having to pause my reading to write down sections of the text on my iPhone so I could re-read them later. I know. I haven’t done that for a LOOOONG time. I mean seriously her description of rain? the semi colon and the verb choice and the imagery.WOW.
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Quote: Zoe Pilger
Image: London Review of Books (courtesy of google image search ‘zoe pilger’ edited on instagram