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Ibid A Life

3.21  ·  Rating Details ·  372 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
When the only copy of his manuscript - a biography of a three-legged circus performer-cum-entrepreneur - is lost by a careless editor, writer Mark Dunn accepts an offer to publish the only surviving text - the footnotes. With great playfulness, Dunn writes himself into this full-length novel.
Unknown Binding
Published by Not Avail (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,114)
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Sep 26, 2008 Carla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who know who Deanna Durbin is
This book is a story told entirely in end notes. Interesting premise, but have you ever tried to read 230-some pages of end notes back to back? It's extraordinarily tedious. If you are ADD and enjoy the equivalent of very short chapters, then you might enjoy this book. But only if you have a darned good working knowledge of 20th century social history. I mean, it makes a Deanna Durbin reference. Raise your hand if you know who Deanna Durbin is (btw, Camille, do you still have the letter she sent ...more
Dec 10, 2007 Chelsea rated it really liked it
A totally out there premise - after the author sent his intensively researched and completely comprehensive biography of Jonathan Blashette to his editor, it was lost in an unfortunate reading-in-the-bath incident. And all that was left was the footnotes - which is exactly what we get here. Wacky and funny, and definitely not a format for everyone, but a lot of fun. (Seriously, the titles of the fictional books he references are wonderful in an of themselves.)

I need to reread this stat.
Aug 15, 2008 Mic rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with an absurb, but nerdy sense of humor
At times this book is a little too absurd and appears to be trying too hard, and it's not all that engaging as a story, but the concept is creative and it has some very funny parts.
"It was not clear if she ate lye and died, or ate dye and lied, claiming blue tongues ran in her family."
That passage hooked me on this book.
Leah Lucci
I've been "reading" this book since August, and am finally throwing in the towel. I just can't bring myself to complete it.

The conceit of this literary experiment is as follows:

There's a biography of this three-legged circus fellow that's been lost. All that's left is the footnotes, which have been published in lieu of the actual content. The footnotes are, for the most part, funny embellishments on things "off-screen," as it were.

Which would have been charming as a short story, but becomes t
Mar 29, 2015 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In the acknowledgments at the end of Ibid: A Life (A Novel in Footnotes), Mark Dunn thanks his publisher "for allowing this most recent, brazen attempt at redefining the American novel," and his readers for "giving [him] the chance to convince [them] that history can be more than dry facts and dates. And that naughty can be mighty fun." Well. I found this book pretty fun, but alas, I liked it less than I liked either of the other two books by Dunn I've read (Ella Minnow Pea and Under the Harrow) ...more
Maria Martinez
I had read Ella Minow Pea by the same author and recommended it to my book club; everyone loved it. We liked it so much that we decided to read another book by the same author, this time, Ibid. I liked the opening of Ibid and its premise but it was a difficult book to read. At times it was tedious, hard to follow, at times it was funny but still not engaging enough. I finished the book although I must confess that not all pages were completely read. I went to my book club meeting where we were t ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued by the concept of a book entirely composed of endnotes. How does the reader get to the meat of the story? I was hooked when reading the introductory letters between the author and his editor. The author lost his extra copy of the biography of a three-legged man while testing a friends "new shredding machine." To complete the circle of comic accidents, while the editor is rounding up music to set an editorial mood, his three year old tips the manuscript into a fragrant bath. The 2 ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)

I have been looking forward to reading Ibid: A Life by Mark Dunn. It is the imaginative biography of Jonathan Blashette, a three-legged man. After opening with several letters between the author, his editor, and his brother, that explain what happened to the actual manuscript, the entire story consists of the endnotes (the use of "footnotes" is obviously a pun) to the missing fictional biography.

I found Ibid hilarious, and really did laugh out loud several times. It tackles, tongue in cheek, the
Jan 22, 2010 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy how quirky and fun Mark Dunn is. This book is a novel composed entirely of footnotes, and that format, obviously, has an enormous impact on the voice of the book. Though I must say that it was sometimes difficult to read for extended periods of time as there is just so much information packed into it that it was sometimes hard to appreciate and absorb unless taken in small doses.

Yet the variety was intriguing. And predicting what would happen next nearly impossible. There are snip
Aug 03, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humor
I struggled through this for the first 50 or so pages. It's such a unique book. I REALLY liked his Ella Minnow Pea and Welcome to Higby. Dunn is amazing with his language risk taking and stylistic approaches. I wish I could meet him. I think his Ella Minnow Pea is the most accessible and smart, literary teen readers would like it best. This one is good. It's just that you have to get yourself used to the style. I will admit that I found it frustrating and irritating at times. I forced myself to ...more
May 14, 2011 VeganMedusa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bc-copy
Not great, but mildly amusing if read in small doses every day. I kept wanting to re-read Pale Fire though, as the slightly unbalanced narrator kept reminding me of that better book.
This would be a good one to read in e-book form, being able to google historical references - there are a lot of them, and sometimes I was unsure which was made up and which was true. I knew nylons were sought after in WWII but nylon riots? Wow. Probably funnier for Americans who are familiar with the strange people
Tami Lynn Andrew
A really cool premise, but I don't think it was very successful.
I am a huge fan of literature that is written in an interesting fashion, so of course I have been dying to read this "novel told through footnotes," but it sort of flopped. I don't think the story benefitted in any way from being told this way, except that the footnotes play off the ideas that the protagonist has an extra foot. While this is witty, it doesn't necessarily warrant the creative format.
The footnotes also weren't really
Jul 30, 2009 Jeff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mark Dunn, the author of the brilliant Ella Minnow Pea, has written a funny novel that is but a trifle. It is written as the footnotes to a fictional biography of a three-legged deoderant entrepreneur. The concept is that the biography itself was lost in the bath waters of the author's editor so all that is left are the footnotes. Elements of American history are woven throughout and laughout loud bits are interspersed. But the nature of writing a book through footnotes, leaves a disjointed narr ...more
Jerry Landry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2012 Maeve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Mark Dunn's work since each of his books is a thought piece. This one is a book told in footnotes, and as someone who always (ok, almost always!) reads the footnotes, a lover of history, and an archivist I was tickled by the premise. I adored his fictitious citations to oral histories, private papers, and other made up works. Dunn is a clever writer, though sometimes a little too clever (as in he seemed to be trying too hard) and other times seemed not to have faith in his readers ...more
Heather McLaughlin
I wish there was a "I couldn't finish this" button instead of the three options. I was SOOO disappointed with this book after reading "Ella Minnow Pea." What a horrible second book. I would say don't bother, but you should always check a book out for yourself.
Donald Quist
Feb 16, 2011 Donald Quist rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can appreciate this book for its premise and I applaud Dunn for attempting to tell a tale entirely through end notes, but it fails miserably as a novel. This is one of the best examples of bad experimental fiction. When compared to other novelists who have ventured these waters without going into the deep end, Junot Diaz, Steven Hall, Chuck Palahniuk, etc., Ibid highlights Dunn's weakness. He can't tie together this series of anecdotes into a narrative worth telling, and by using the footnote ...more
Aug 06, 2014 Gregg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, quirky
Conceived as "a novel in footnotes" (although more correctly they should be called endnotes), Ibid tells its narrative indirectly. As readers we never know the full story of the main character. However, we can gain an overall impression of his life story, and by reading the digressions made in the endnotes we get flavors that we could not through a standard novel.

I was interested in this book because I enjoyed the author's Ella Minnow Pea. That novel also played with narrative style, but in a mo
Feb 09, 2016 Nina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was tongue in cheek and amusing at times, but the fragmentary nature of the footnotes (while a fun gimmick at first) kind of got on my nerves. It just made it hard to get into the book or care about finishing it.
Jan 16, 2015 Ajenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enchanting at first, similar to Dunn's other great book, Ella Minnow Pea, but quickly became hard to stay engaged with, its rather jumpy. Glad I read it, and still enjoy Mark Dunn.
Jun 29, 2010 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read Ella Minnow Pea (and LOVED it!) and expected the same young adult tone and style. However, I was disappointed to see a swear word on page 20 in the first chapter. There was another swear word on page 27 in the 3rd chapter (the last page I read of the book). There was also a lot of reference to prostitutes that I found discouraging (the main character having had an affair with one, a relative being one, etc...).

I have waited almost 3 years since reading Ella Minnow Pea to have access to a
Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea is a favorite of mine, so I've been looking forward to reading Ibid for a long time. I knew it would be clever--it is (extremely). I knew it would be funny (it is, but only sometimes). But this book is just strange. It is a story told completely through footnotes (the premise is that the main manuscript was lost but the footnotes/endnotes survived, so they decided just to publish the notes). There is a lot of fun stuff for book/word geeks who appreciate the format and styl ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. . It demonstrated how suprisingly, you can gain an insight to characters via footnotes and historical references. Ibid was a fun and at times laugh out loud account of a three legged man who made an impact on so many lives. More importantly, the book demonstrated that the little things one does in their life can make a huge impact on so many. Jonathan was different, but it was his human decency and big heart that helped so many, not his special third leg. What a lovel ...more
Mac Colley
Oct 17, 2014 Mac Colley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another clever, fun book by Mark Dunn.
I felt the story as a whole and as a result of being told through footnotes, while a really cool concept in theory, in practice did not translate well. The book was too disjointed and I found the format confusing and difficult to follow at times. I also didn't feel I got a well developed character in Johnathan Blashette (main character). It was frustrating to only get little snapshots that never appeared to sum to whole. I did enjoy the humor found within and there were many times I laughed out ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: purchased
3.5 stars. Wacky, fun read. Recommended for "Joe Versus the Volcano" lovers. :-)
Apr 03, 2014 Alana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
interesting way to tell a story.
Sara Diane
I tried to read this book, but after a month of not being able to read more than a chapter at any given time, and not getting hooked enough to keep going back, I have decided to move this into the "not going to finish" pile. It is a small pile and I'm sad to be making it bigger, but I just can't seem to get into this one. I loved Ella Minnow Pea by the same author, I think it was more the story (and not the interesteing format) that caused me to not like it so much. At least I gave it a good try ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been a huge Mark Dunn fan ever since I first read "Ella Minnow Pea" years ago; I love his playfulness with words and language, and his interweaving of silly and endearing. Yet, as brave and smart of a concept as this book was - telling a story by means of footnotes - I just did not enjoy the story as much as I did "Ella" or "Under the Harrow." I'll credit that the ending was very sweet, but did not quite make up for the choppiness of the rest of the novel.
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Mark Dunn is the author of several books and more than thirty full-length plays, a dozen of which have been published in acting edition.

Mark has received over 200 productions of his work for the stage throughout the world, with translations of his plays into French, Italian, Dutch and Hungarian. His play North Fork (later retitled Cabin Fever: A Texas Tragicomedy when it was picked up for publica
More about Mark Dunn...

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“There is no one great man. Only millions of men and women in possession of tiny pieces of greatness, which when put together, when assembled in the aggregate make the whole. I am a piece of a very large jigsaw puzzle. One of the corner pieces. The one you go for first - important for a time, different from most of the others. But then, in the end, in the big picture, just one of many.” 4 likes
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