When looking to purchase a book I always try to buy them used. This allows me to stock my personal library with nice hardcover editions that often cost just as much, or occasionally less, than the price of a new paperback edition while also supporting small businesses that do their part to keep the dream of physical books alive. Used copies of books also come with an elusive presence of the previous owner haunting the pages. Occasionally I will wonder ho...more
First off, I think I could accept a description of this book as pretentious, self-indulgent, plotless, etc. All the usual suspects. Large swaths of its content are jumbled thoughts about painters, museums,...more
The following survey is designed to predict your strength of connection to this very distinctive book. Choose the responses that apply best to you and tally the associated points. Then compare your total with the ranges below to see the course of action recommended especially for you.
1. If offered, I’d choose the stack of pages by a) Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins, and Nora Roberts (1 pt.), b) Lee Child, James Patterson, and Vince Flynn (2 pts.), c) Carson McCul...more
But when they succeed, as I claim David Markson's 'Wittgenstein's Mistress' does, they serve the vital & vanishing function of reminding us of fiction's limitless possibilities for reach & grasp, for making heads throb heartlike... ~ David Foster Wallace
I reserve the right to tweak this review at will.
One of many things I love about this book is how ardently it made me want to get inside of the mind of the narrator. A lot of readers have written reviews describing 'Wittgenste...more
Till yesterday...Castles in the air was just a phrase for me, today I built one and burned it. I gave myself a new name and wrote it on the sand, the waves took with them a different me. I took a ladder and climbed the moon; the yonder earth looked both sad and serene. With colors from nature, I painted an ocean, where the seashells were crooning and pearls were flying. I asked a tree if my words will live, forever is a myth it replied before dying. Am I alone or am I lonely? Such questions I ra...more
It hurts me that we disagree.
But I read the book, read Wallace's argument (this essay) and the flaws that he points out (and forgives) I can't get past. Here is his defense, which I summarize:
-this is one of those novels which cry out for critical interpretation and directs it, like a waltz does in music....more
-a cross between fiction, and a weird cerebral roman à clef.
-he was attracted to the book because of the title, noting it woul
David, David, David. How you Wow!* me.** You found your way to me at exactly the right time, and I’m devouring you at a pace McCarthy and Bolaño and Marías could only hope for. Don’t worry Chuck, Bobby, Javi, I’m still yours, but David has earned his place in your esteemed company. I am most pleased that this group seems to have so little in common—other than me.
But first, the obligatory: a MUCH better review is to be found by JN-M here (read it, Like it, then read it again), if I were to quibb...more
It probably took me less than 20 pages to be enamored with Wittgenstein's Mistress and I turned the last page quite in awe of David Markson.
What we read as the novel is an unbroken series of sentences being typed by a woman, who could be the last animal alive on the earth. One by one she pulls out little threads out of the tangled yarn that her fading and cluttered memory has become. As she unloads her intellectual baggage, she constantly corrects and contradicts herself. We see her struggle to...more
One's language is frequently imprecise in that manner, I have discovered.
First, a few facts about the reviewer: 1) Has never read DFW's essay on WM, or anything else by Markson. 2) Is passingly familiar with about 66% of the writers, artists, and composers mentioned throughout, as well as their major works. 3) Has experience...more
Doubtless these are inconsequential perplexities.
Still, inconsequential perplexities have now and again been known to become the fundamental mood of existence, one suspects.
Doubtless this is the passage that works best for me in suming up the experience of reading Markson’s anti-novel.
There’s no plot, no characters to speak of, no structure and no final illuminating revelations about fundamental aspects of human nature.
Unless one considers that we live in a constant state of bafflement, wastin...more
The five star, in all good conscience, should only be awarded after a second run-through and piece-together. I am stunned and throat-constricted after finishing this and need to catch my breath, regroup. I have my notes and a review kernel ready but it does no justice to this novel. I don't want to review it. Instead, I want to read it a thousand times.
This time, it is about a novel with no paragraph.
Or maybe with many paragraphs.
I guess it depends on what a paragraph is.
When is a sentence just a sentence, and when does it become a paragraph?
Here, the paragraphs are composed of just one sentence each.
Sometimes not even a sentence.
Just phrases each ending with a period.
So if they're not paragraphs then this novel has no paragraphs.
Just sentences standing separately from each o...more
Well, what I should have said is the only creature living.
On my honor, there is nobody else. There are no dogs or cats or seagulls or scorpions.
Quite possibly there are no fish either.
I did not verify that for certain about the fish, however.
A part I always liked is when she was living at the Louvre and used the frames to make a fire. She nailed the paintings back into place.
Actually that was at the Tate where she did that.
Helen, being the name of th...more
That alone would've been a good premise for a novel. But Markson takes that premise as just the backdrop, the starting point for many other investigation...more
To be frank, it's rather overwhelming, and I'm not really ready to articulate what I think about it yet. Writing about abstract concepts like history or philosophy is easy to me. Writing about people is hard.
I admired it for its ability to do so much with so little. Markson's novel is written, as you probably know, as a sequence of short paragraphs -- often just one sentence per paragraph -- that relate the thoughts of protagonist Kate in a spare, simple, lucid style modeled (at least superficially) on Wittgenstein's Tractatus. The content of Kate's musing is, if this makes sense, spare in a way directly analogous to its style. Most of...more
Thank you to all my new goodreads friends whose plundered shelves gave this to me.
12AUG12. Someone read the foregoing five-word review and told me "Long overdue for a REVIEW!" which flummoxed me a bit because I thought I had at least jotted a few thoughts in here. Not only had I not commented here (apart from the reread comment), I haven't commented on my personal page! What the hell damn guy! WM is on my list of lifetime favorites, and yet now that I've sat down to write I find myself glaring into an empty "What did you th...more
If you don't know your worth in art history, philosophical references or European history, it might be a less enjoyable reading experience, but those are the things I get off on, so I had an a-ok relationship with it.
What initially enticed me, of course, was the title (although I am fond of the cover, which quotes the first strange line of the book, "In the beginning I left messages on...more
I don't want to talk too much more about this novel, for fear of giving away the journey of discovery you're hurled into here, so instead let...more
Markson's work is characterized...more