Markson, David. Reader's Block. 1996.
Review for radio GLT, Normal, IL.
David Markson's Reader's Block is written in very short paragraphs.
This is a style whose look is gentle to the eye and visually does not promise a great deal of continuity.
It looks like Carole Maso's Ava or her new book Aureole, but it reads like David Markson's earlier novel: Wittgenstein's Mistress.
Only without the character.
And without the tantalizing possibility of a plot.
Although certainly it is a novel.
What else could it be?
There seem to be three types of paragraphs in Reader's Block.
The first type is paragraphs which advance the plot, in which the author tries to decide what the plot is.
The characters seem to be named Reader or Protagonist.
It seems to be a thickly veiled thinly veiled autobiography.
The second type of paragraph is paragraphs which are unattributed quotations from other books.
There may be as many as 333, but I'm not sure: they're unattributed.
These may overlap with the third type of paragraph.
Camus died in a carcrash.
Anaxagoras committed suicide by starving himself.
Whistler was an anti-semite.
Coleman Dowell committed suicide in a leap from a balcony.
Karl Marx was an anti-semite.
Gertrude Stein had to pay to publish Three Lives.
Sappho's poetry was burned at least three times by the church. Fewer than 700 lines remain out of probably 12,000, with most of those forming only fragments.
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, coming from one of such.
Georges Perec died from lung cancer caused by excessive tobacco smoking at age 46.
Edmund Wilson once proposed marriage to Djuna Barnes.
Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
Queneau Benabou Mathews.
Alma Mahler was an anti-semite.
I read somewhere that the author is dead.
After reading Reader's Block, I understand perfectly:
The author committed suicide, penniless and destitute.
Reader's Block by David Markson is a book in whose presence it is more difficult then usual to be a critic.
For one thing, it is a truly and magnificently new experiment in fiction for which existing critical language is inadequate.
For another thing,
Carlyle's Sartor Resartus was damningly abused by reviewers. Once he became famous he had it reissued. And included the reviews as an appendix.
Likewise Kenneth Gaburo included, in a late edition of the score of Maledetto, numerous scathing reviews of the first performance.
For another thing, I love it.
If it only had an index.