We're pleased to report that David Markson appears to have a new novel out.
Markson, now 76, has written, among much else, six previous novels, a volume of poetry and another of criticism. He has received numerous awards and fellowships. He lives in New York. His Wittgenstein's Mistress, published in 1988, was his most celebrated work so far - though it first was rejected, he has said, by 54 publishers.
Markson's technique, or device, is brazenly unorthodox. This book is a series of little snippets, from one word to a maximum of five or six lines. The narrative voice is presented as "Author" - never "the author" and not otherwise described. Author is writing on a 40-plus-year-old portable typewriter. The bits are presented as notes taken on 3-by-5-inch index cards that fill two shoeboxes. There's an early declaration that "Author is pretty sure that most of them are basically in the sequence he wants."
Our favorite of his books is Springer's Progress.
Finally, herewith an excerpt from Reader's Block:
Someone nodded hello to me on the street yesterday.
To me, or to him?
Someone nodded hello to Reader on the street yesterday.
Church bells were already ringing, to announce the Armistice in November 1918, when word reached Wilfred Owen's family that he had been killed in battle one week before.
Picasso made Gertrude Stein sit more than eighty times for her portrait.
And then painted out the head and redid it three months later without having seen her again.
Pablo Casals began each day for more than seventy years by playing Bach.
I have, Reader has?
Reader has come to this place because he had no life back there at all.
Someone nodded hello to him on the street yesterday.
Anna Akhmatova had an affair with Amedeo Modigliani in Paris in 1910 and 1911. Late in life, not having left Russia again in a third of a century, she would be astonished to learn how famous he had become.
In 1579, when Shakespeare was fifteen, the population of Stratford would have been little more than fifteen hundred. Is it a safe assumption that he knew the woman named Katherine Hamlet who fell into the Avon that summer and drowned?
Emily Dickinson became so extravagantly reclusive in the second half of her life that for the last ten years she did not once leave her house.
Even among the most tentative first thoughts about a first draft, why is Reader thinking of his central character as Reader?
Gray's Elegy is 128 lines long. Gray spent seven years writing it.
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?
Granted, Reader is essentially the I in instances such as that. Presumably in most others he will not be the I at all, however.
Fighting with his wife, drunk, Paul Verlaine once threw their three-month-old son against a wall.
Thumbed pages: read and read. Who has passed here before me?
Saint Thomas Aquinas was an anti-Semite.
Only Bianchon can save me, said Balzac, near death.
Bianchon being a doctor in Le Pere Goriot.
His life evidently static. Alone, seemingly without occupation or achievement, his means meager.
Anthony Trollope said he had read Fenimore Cooper's The Prairie at least three dozen times.
Perhaps someone from a shop Protagonist had stopped in at, a clerk? Or merely someone in a friendly mood in passing?
Severn, lift me up, I am dying.
Don't breathe on me, it comes like ice.
The world is my idea.
Saint Augustine said his first teacher was also the first person he ever saw who could read without moving his lips.