Reader’s Block, like its successor, The Last Novel, reads like a collection of author’s notes, random ideas that come his way which might be useful in a future narrative to be written by the subsequent Novelist Who pulls things together.
In Reader’s Block, Reader appears as a magpie collecting fragments of mostly literary opinion and gossip. Reader is rapacious and has no clear filter for what is relevant - a sort of literary omnivore - tittle-tattle, biographical detail, prejudices ...more
Markson’s short work of experimental fiction weaves together strings of historical facts (Frederick Delius was paralyzed and blinded by syphilis.), quotations (Pouring out liquor is like burning books. Said Faulkner.) and endless references to the horrors of humanity and human suffering (Two of Thomas Mann’s sons committed suicide. As did two of Marx’s daughters.), with the patches of a novel the Reader is trying to write.
Sometimes a ...more
Reader’s Block is exactly like this magic theatre of Steppenwolf.
Reader’s Block reads literally as a baedeker to misfortunes and calamities lying in ambush for a creative mind on its way to the fulfillment of its pursuits.
Like a perfect thing-in-itself Reader’s Block contains its own perfect self-definition:
A novel of intellectual reference and allusion, so to speak minus much of the novel.
I’ve spent hours and hours in this literary ...more
Right book. Right time. 5 stars. No apologies.
Ah, but is it a novel?
Well, let’s see. A Handbook to Literature: Novel Novel is used in its broadest sense to designate any extended fictional narrative almost always in prose. In practice, however, its use is customarily restricted to narratives in which the representation of character occurs either in a static condition or in the process of development as the result of events or actions. Often the term implies that some organizing principle—PLOT,...more
Then again: What is grand is necessarily obscure to weak men. That which can be made explicit to the idiot is not worth my care, per Blake.
Adolf Hitler was an anti-Semite.
Though, it can be argued, that this self-referentialism, no matter how poorly executed, is the point entire—imitation being the sincerest of forms.
So they say.
This hyper ...more
Or is he in some peculiar way thinking of an autobiography?
Obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax in any case.
Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage.
—So, why hasn’t someone transformed this book into a hyper doc yet? If they did, I would likely grumble. But I guess, if I have a point, it’s something like, I constantly feel the tension that ...more
A review titled Reviewer's Block is ready but will be up only after completing the tetralogy(?). I am sure I am missing all the really good twists.
The Reader, now elderly, broke, broken and sick, walked, directionless, and unremarkably into the sea.
He did not remember his daughter's name, nor her brother's, or whether she had one.
William H. Gass was an anti-Semite.
He wrote what and how his father spoke.
The Reader committed suicide.
The Reader was buried in a cemetery close to the beach, next to the grave of the Protagonist, who predeceased him, if in fact they did not die simultaneously.
Did it ever, once, enter e ...more
So how is it a novel, you ask? Well, embedded in this 193-page "list" are snippets from Reader (would-be author) and Protagonist (would-be author's would-be main character). All well and ...more
This book is a series of short paragraphs, some a single word, few more than five lines. The paragraphs are separated by double spaces, so the book looks like poetry, or like Wittgenstein's Tractatus, or like Rochefoucauld.
There are, principally, two kinds of entries: miscellaneous notes about artists (mainly novelists, some poets, virtually all North American or European); and author's notes about a novel he's thinking about wr ...more
Reader is distracted from developing his plot and characters by the random thoughts and trivia of all the ...more
Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage.
I have a narrative but you will be put to it to find it.
What is a novel in any case?
Let’s start with that final question, which is a quote lifted directly from the book (as are the three other quotes above it). I think there’s a fairly well-accepted convention that novels are at least partly fictional. Also, not always true, but mostly, novels have some kind o ...more
We enjoyed doing it in VP, and once again the action wobbles around a book project in-the-making. Instead of VPs Writer, here we have a dua ...more
If forced to choose, Giacometti once said, he would rescue a cat from a burning building before a Rembrandt.
I am growing older. I have been in hospitals. Do I wish to put certain things down?
David Markson, author of Wittgenstein's Mistress, presents us here with a state of inspirational struggle familiar to writers everywhere. Through a collection of seemingly arcane factoids and trivia, interspersed with the questing voices resid ...more
Is this melancholic collection of anecdotes and quotes (some attributed, many not) about/from writers, painters, composers, and philosophers, with a studied focus on death and antisemitism, interspersed with bits and pieces of raw material for a novel, in itself a novel? That is for the Reader to decide. After the first few pages I wasn't sure I cared to find out but then the cadence drew me in and carried me along. Not quite a five-star read for me, but quite close.
The basic concept goes like this: There's a writer called reader. Because that's what he's mostly doing. He's thinking about his next book and its protagonist. Basically an alter ego of reader, being an alter ego of Markson. Very meta. There's no plot, just an accumulation of snippets taken from reader's readin ...more
Jan Miner was married 4 times and died in a convalescent home in Bethel, Connecticut.
Lenny Bruce died of an acute overdose of morphine poisoning.
His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people
said Frank Sinatra of Elvis
King George II was pronounced dead in 1760 from “over-exertions on the privy."
Goodreader glances out the ...more
Markson's work is characterized ...more