The Last Novel
Pressed by solitude and age, Novelist's pr ...more
The Last Novel is a compendium of apparently disconnected facts, aphorisms, anecdotes, and assorted witticisms. Mostly these are about writers and other artists but also includes other notables like scientists and politicians. All are delivered in the best traditions of WC Fields and Henny Youngman as perfectly crafted one-liners. The effect is startling - as if Markson first wrote something of high literary density - like a Finnegans Wake or an Under the Volcano - and t ...more
You know the feeling you have when you approach the end of a book you’ve been loving—that feeling of wanting to finish it, but not wanting it to end? That’s me, right now, in spades.
But you have finished it, Blanche, you have. (some obscure reference to Seinfeld, Baby Jane, Bette Davis, Bette Davis channeling H.L. Mencken? Perhaps leading to Kevin Bacon, so degreed my separation)
Separation anxiety aside, I still have several Marksons to wallow in, even the poems (sadly, I lack the $90, 50-year-o...more
Novel? Perhaps the title is satirical. He calls it a novel, which may be intended as a form of challenge to "the novel" or more likely a joke and a sarcastic one at that. It's a book, certainly. But novel? It's like trying to force a Mormon through a keyhole. Why make "the novel" take on the burde ...more
There is an almost perfect description of the book given by the author himself:
“A novel of intellectual reference and allusion, so to speak minus much of the novel.
And thus in which Novelist will say more about himself only when he finds no way to evade doing so, but rarely otherwise.”
In The Last Novel a creative mind exists in the inimical world and is surrounded by ...more
Markson's quartet fucked me up in the best possible way. It is one of (the?) most original approaches to the novel that I've seen in a long time. What came across to me as a bit of a cheap trick in Witt congeals in these books and demonstrates the deep humanity of the Man-As-Reader. It's beyond brilliant and I've disappeared compl ...more
It was a sad mistake to read the last instalment of David Markson’s quartet straight after the third. Not only because it shows a modest talent deteriorating into an immodest talent, but because it displays what is worst about white male American Post-modernism.
“Old. Tired. Sick. Alone. Broke.” (2, 3, 93, 190) Author (now called Novelist) has lost whatever sense of humour he might once have had, and is now bitter and twisted, snarky and scornful:
“His last book. All of which also
Proposition #2: Most of those readers will have read Wittgenstein's Mistress because David Foster Wallace thought it was cool beans.
Proposition #3: Eagle-eyed readers of this short review may recognize that I'm shittily and superficially cribbing the style of Wittgenstein's Tractatus (which [natch] plays heavily into the style of the aforementioned Markson novel and the thought of the late Mr. Wallac ...more
Reading can never be the same again.
Reader's Block, this is not a novel, Vanishing Point and The Last Novel.
Mr. Markson induces a meditative state thorough an assemblage of 'collage like' fragments.
I am so sorry I read this. After reading "Wittgenstein's Mistress," I was eager to see what else Markson had done. This novel, judged just for itself, is extremely weak: it depends on a ploy, which Markson announces: he will keep himself out of the book as much as possible, and fill it instead with facts and anecdotes about painters, composers, and writers. As a ...more
the novelist's constant effort to size up his career through comparison to the "greats," saturates every page, paying considerable attn. to how it is that so many artists completed enviable oeuvres ...more
But underneath or threaded throughout those clips is a sad truth about art and culture and the value society has always given it. It's also the story of getting old, passing ...more
Rather than following the normal pattern of speech in which data is parsed into fragments, short exclamations, and longer asides, everything they said consisted of a one sentence point.
Assuming that such a person could reference Ancient Greece, Osamu Noguchi, and Virginia Woolf, such an achievement might be actually fairly impressive.
Some people think that grammatical conventions exist for a reason, inviting a discour ...more
Didn't realize until halfway through that Markson's the guy who wrote "Wittgenstein's Mistress," which I always meant to read but haven't.
The character of "the writer," is not really a character and not really interesting. But the book is. Sometimes. Oh, and there's no narrative. And no optimism really. ...more
People joked about Markson writing "The Posthumous Novel," but this really feels like that title. It's prickly, sad, and self-pitying, obsessively concerned with posterity, critical judgements, and the impossible ...more
The ways we fight for power and build empires and states, and the way these things collapse and die, and the kinds of harm we invent for ourselves and each other, would be comic if they weren't so damned sad.
Art, in Markson's weird literary collages, is not the cure for any of this. If anything, Markson finds in the history of art a transcendent embodiment of our follies and the futility of our efforts.
But there's a deep and effervescent kind of beauty ...more
"His last book. All of which also then gives Novelist carte blanche to do anything here he damned well pleases."
These quotes and those that follow are from what is both the literal last novel in Markson's career and the final installment in his tetralogy. Markson places the Pretty Much Mirrored Version Of Himself -- Novelist -- in the center of a tapestry of historical anecdotes with regard to all manner of other artists' ...more
With that said I felt compeled to continue reading it until i felt as if i was wasting my time to ...more
This being his last work, what we read is vastly more inflected with thoughts about death and dying; about the hopes and fears any creative person has for the work and world they leave behind. This is as fra ...more
A brilliant cut-and-paste job.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Can be read in any direction, but it 'works' linearly.
Of a piece with Markson's other work.
I hope 'writer' writes to live again.
A real treat: read this in conjunction with David Shields's The Thing About Life... and Julian Barnes's Nothing to Be Frightened Of.
Markson's work is characterized ...more