The purpose of this essay is to bring together some recent interests in the reading and writing ethnographic sociology and anthropology, and to apply one classic mode of analysis to texts of sociology. This essay is, therefore, intended as part of a rapidly growing literature on the literary and rhetorical devices available to the authors and readers of scholarly texts. Anthropologists have been in the forefront of various so-called ‘new’ approaches to texts of scholarship: sociologists – ethnographers in particular – are fast catching up (cf. Atkinson 1990, 1992). I focus here on one particular genre, and will try out one particular analytic strategy. The genre in question is the autobiographical or ‘confessional’ account, in which ethnographers ‘tell it like it was’ and reveal the personal and practical issues they experienced in the course of their own fieldwork. The genre is itself large and diverse, and growing steadily. Many ethnographers are impelled or invited to publish at least one such account from each fieldwork project. The autobiographical essay is a ‘standard’ output from ethnographic research. It is so much a taken-for-granted mode of writing that many fieldworkers must now be alert and sensitive to any potentially ‘confessable’ incidents in the course of their data collection and journal-keeping. All in the trade know that it is difficult not to think ‘This will make a good story’ in the course of field research – thinking either of incidents as ‘data’, or as memorable anecdotes for the revelatory account that must surely follow the safe publication of papers, monograph or whatever. The ethnographer who cannot generate personal anecdotes is in a sorry state indeed. The nature and form of those stories will form the substance of much of this chapter.