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Springer’s Progress

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  227 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Here comes Lucien Springer. Age: forty-seven. Still handsome though muchly vodka'd novelist, currently abashed by acute creative dysfunction. Sole preoccupation amid these artistic doldrums: pursuit of fair women. Springer is a randy incorrigible who is guided by only one inflexible precept: no protracted affairs. And thus he has slyly sustained eighteen years of marriage. ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  227 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
I am torn with this one, oscillating between pleasure and boredom.

Pleasure in the hard-edged, clipped prose, the humour (including some almost CBR worthy puns), and the meta-games going on.

Boredom in the masturbatory nature of the plot, the old saw of middle-aged lust and fantasies of being so potent that sexy young women are given multiple orgasms by your bedroom talent…

Fun, at times, and worth pulling off the shelf, particularly to see a writer on a path to a unique vo
MJ Nicholls
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
At some point David Markson seems to have become physically unable to write linear sentences, stifled by the anxiety of influence, or the agonising labour of such a well-trodden enterprise, and his failure to do so. Eventually, his novels would break down into nuggets of trivia, lost forever to the bookish world of highbrow literary allusiveness that engulfed most of his postmodernist friends. This novel is written in a berserk shorthand that flits between a sardonic narrator, a close third-pers ...more
David Katzman
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Markson completists
Not the Markson I love. I'm a huge fan of The Last Novel and Wittgenstein's Mistress, but I found Springer's Progress to be unrewarding. Purely from a reader response point-of-view, the main character was irritating. Yes, he is kind of an asshole. Assholes are fine in literature because they are honest. But irritating for the duration is unacceptable. Sure, people scrape their nails on chalkboards in real life but would you listen to a song of someone doing it for 10 minutes? My issues with the character were compoun ...more
Simon Robs
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
"While Jessica Cornford has bourbon hair and hyacinth eyes and an opulent Orphic ass. And he an "arrant travestying bastard." You could end the sum right there and have it. Butt you'd miss all the fun and pun that wizzes around that nucleus of potentialities that do come hither in this rompy tale of writer's block. That's the "Springer's Progress" as when protag./rump worshiper Lucian Springer finally breaks through his addled (vodka supping) ennui and begins work on his new novel though it's ar ...more
B. Rule
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The writing in this book is incredible. The prose is a dense Joycean thicket of puns, wordplay, literary allusions, and ribaldry. The writing style alone earns this one 4 stars. The plot and characters are... not on that same level. There's just not that much interesting about a married man having an affair that seems largely based on his admiration for a young woman's callipygian virtues. The protagonist, Springer, is basically unlikeable (I believe intentionally so) and it's dreary to read his ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
"listen, blotterbrain, try to be sober for seventeen seconds. your problematical ending beside the point, what do you ultimately want out of this coprophagous excursus?
oh, words, obviously.
play a little. with luck a phrase or three worth some lonely pretty girl's midnight underlining.
what've phrases got to do with the cost of smoked salmon in abu dhabi?
haven't i acknowledged that? just once, can't a character be the product of his own fucked-up head rather t
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Certainly not stercoraceous!
Anne Earney
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-book-shelf
The first half was 2 stars, second half 4 stars, so here we are. Annoying at times (man's obsession with sex sooo boring over so many pages), much more interesting when it starts to turn toward his later style, with anecdotes about the lives and deaths of writers and artists, and the trick of turning the novel in on itself...

If this had been the first Markson I'd read, I wouldn't have gotten any further. Maybe 2.5 stars after all.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Joycean pastiche in the first half. More post-modern without being wanky about it in the second half. Very good overall. Would recommend.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think that Markson wasn't making fun of the trope of 'older man fucks nubile young babes on the reg,' you're reading it wrong. It's the 70s; lighten the fuck up.
Nick Scandy
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
A common trope filtered through Markson's playful witticism meta-machine = a good time. And surprisingly touching in parts. (Faux-Markson wordplay attempt intended.)
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
The protagonist, Springer, around whom the novel revolves, is a writer suffering from the "block", who is cannot let go an opportunity to have an affair with any woman in sight, who loves his wife as he continues to cheat on her, has the most distateful sexual habits, and pouts Shakespeare, Kipling, Joyce, Homer and even the Bible when he is in the throes of his sexual lust.

He meets his match in the 25-year old Jessica, another classics-pouting writer, who sends Springer into the dep
Aug 31, 2011 rated it liked it
not sure. probably missed something. it seems like, & i'm gonna sound like a dick here, markson went to edit an actual novel when he was stoned off his rocker & that is where his modern parsing of language went to. i get the need to tone things down instead of over verbosing (if that's a word), but in a way markson went both directions, unsuccessfully so. this book is no where near the greatness of wittgenstein's mistress, which was pure genius. springer's progress sort of spirals away a ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
A guy on Twitter said read this, it is genius. I would say there is a glimmer in the style. I have read other Markson novels with less plot and sex. All of his books are stuffed with knowledge and intelligence and word play. The protagonist is an unspeakably foul and deranged writer in midlife crisis who spouts amusing literary references on every page. It captures a certain kind of helpless male passion. It made my liver hurt. I was gad to know him, at a distance, and not be him.
c.vance c.vance
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this may go down to four stars---
the writing is balls; rarely seen so much balls in style (possibly the only way it could be compared to Joyce) and, in that, it alone deserves five. but voice and distinction? overly impressive... then there's an unashamed copout of an ending that i love too much but might hate soon. anyway, not many will like it.
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a less experimental novel from Markson, but the intelligence still leaps from the page. It's also damn sexy. A blurb calls it Joycean. Yes, I can see that. Funny, allusive, dirty, sensual. (But don't be scared off. It's a lot easier, quicker read than anything ol' Jamesy ever wrote.)
Stephen Dierks
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
i liked that it focused on a romantic relationship and that it was honest/explicit about sex and other things. i didn't like some of the show-offy language, which was anachronistic and didn't seem to serve any purpose other than attempting to 'legitimize' the book and/or the author.
Ezekiel Tyrus
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this is a book I read and reread, one I feel can teach me to be a better writer.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Overindulgence in a mid-life crisis. Not entirely wank, but pretty close.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book changed how I think about fictional writing. It blew my mind -- what it did with language. And it made me laugh and care, too. Extraordinary.
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is simply a brilliantly inventive, hilarious and earthy linguistic tour de force.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeff by: da Viking
This is the first thing i've read from markson. real funny. I understood maybe 25% of his literary references and such...but the language and the dialogue are something to behold.
Jan 30, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Really?? Dude's name is Lucien? That sounds awfully familiar
Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Markson is dirty and lush, but unobtrusively, woozily honest. The book reads aloud like a night spent whoring with Melville.
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
arroz is arroz is arroz.
Brent Legault
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
The first of Markson's good period, when he was letting go of old bad habits and hadn't had the time to embrace new ones. Very funny and filled with lots of Buster Keaton-ish sex.
Rick Harsch
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Springer's Progress is a novelist having fun with wordplay and sex and there's nothing wrong with it in the least--it's limited only by its limited ambition.
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the writing - smutty writer and his many trysts - but I felt I've read it before, and it's not better than other degenerate-writer novels.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it liked it
on second thought this is probably about 3.5
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David Markson was an American novelist, born David Merrill Markson in Albany, New York. He is the author of several postmodern novels, including This is Not a Novel, Springer's Progress, and Wittgenstein's Mistress. His most recent work, The Last Novel, was published in 2007 and received a positive review in the New York Times, which called it "a real tour de force."

Markson's work is characterized by an unconventio