Sunday, June 06, 2010

David Markson (1928 - 2010)

I feel like I should write something about the death of author David Markson. (News via.)

The truth is I've only read one of his books.

I liked the one book I read, Reader's Block, a lot. I read it at a time when I felt stuck on fiction and had... well... reader's block. It cured me.

Reader's Block isn't Markson's most famous novel. His most famous novel is Wittgenstein's Mistress.

I have a copy of Wittgenstein's Mistress, but haven't read it.

Well, I read the first forty or so pages, liked them a lot, but got distracted and put it down and never picked it back up again.

That's not a reflection on Markson. I do that with a lot of books. Even ones I really like a lot.

And I liked Wittgenstein's Mistress a lot.

Actually my finishing a book in one go is more unusual. I did that with Reader's Block though.

I'm not sure if I'd recommend Reader's Block to everyone. It's highly experimental fiction: no real plot, a lot of odd facts about reading and interesting observations.

It's all written in short, one-or-two sentence paragraphs.

It's oddly compelling really.

In his excellent round-up on David Markson from a few years ago, Derik Badman calls Reader's Block (and Markson's subsequent two novels) "discontinuous, nonlinear, collage-like".

Well, actually, that phrase is from Reader's Block, but Derik applied it to Markson's work.

Or maybe Markson applied it, and Derik just noticed.

Except that it isn't quite the same phrase. What Markson wrote was "Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage."

It's easy to see that because Derik quotes it.

But does that mean that Markson wrote it? Or Derik?

Does it matter when the whole idea is nonlinearity anyway?

I'd like to go read some more Markson. Maybe pick up Wittgenstein's Mistress again, or read Markson's follow-up to Reader's Block, This Is Not a Novel.

But while I have both of those, I don't have them with me, right here, at hand.

So while I said that I have Wittgenstein's Mistress but haven't read it, neither half was quite true. But actually both were true in some ways.

So you might like David Markson, but you might not. But you might.

If you're the sort of person who would like David Markson's work, you'll like David Markson's work a lot. That sounds like a tautology, but it isn't really. There are a lot of people whom it's not true for.

June, 2010: Daivd Markson, death of.


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