Saturday, October 03, 2009

The absence of narrative progression plus cross-circuited schematism

I guess it was Sarah Manguso's "Writing about not writing" syllabus at Bookforum that prompted me to put this and a few other things into the shopping cart - but at around 10:30 last night when I should have been going to BED I instead picked up David Markson's Reader's Block and LITERALLY found it impossible to put it down until I finished it.

It is the most absolutely mesmerizing book!

It made me feel, too, as though I were its perfect reader ("A novel of intellectual reference and allusion, so to speak minus much of the novel") - I wonder whether it would be appealing to someone who did not so strongly as I grow up reading T. S. Eliot and that Eliotian canon, and with years of reading the Romantic poets and literary biographies in my early twenties - at any rate, it is a sad and staggeringly good book. I will teach a class one day where I can include it on the syllabus, that's for sure - it would make a fascinating end point for an upper-level undergraduate seminar on the debate over ancients and moderns, which is the new class I am thinking I must develop sometime over the next couple years...

I have been very busy (sent my final novel revisions to the editor yesterday!), so light reading has been sporadic and perhaps even more eclectic than usual! Golly, I am overdue for a MASSIVE STINT OF NOVEL-READING - not sure, though, quite when that is going to happen.

Dara Torres's Age is Just a Number reveals more details of the unattractive personality one suspects on the basis of various stories and interviews (if you want an inspirational sport-related book by a significant athlete of that generation who also battled an eating disorder, you will be much better off with Monica Seles' Getting a Grip).

It is no discredit to Frank Bruni's interesting and highly readable memoir Born Round when I say that the most fascinating detail I gleaned from it was that the New York Times has an arrangement with American Express whereby the credit card company provides cards with multiple names for restaurant critics who have to eat incognito!

And as part of a big haul from the excellent Book Depository (free worldwide shipping of books from the UK - though I see I could have gotten it very cheap used!), I indulged in Victoria Clayton's A Girl's Guide to Kissing Frogs (enjoyable, but perhaps not her best - motifs from other books too obviously hashed out again).


  1. I was also quite disappointed by Dara Torres - this book could have been so much better but instead one was left wanting to not really root for her again. She managed to make herself both dull and arrogant - and very uninteresting!!

  2. Great to hear about someone discovering Markson for the first time and having your reaction. I'm envious of your chance to read his work for the first time. You'll want to make it through "Reader's Block" and then all the rest of his books. You make a great point about how his books make you feel like a perfect reader. Have fun with him.

  3. цензовый электрошокер абстракционист