David, David, David. How you Wow!* me.** You found your way to me at exactly the right time, and I’m devouring you at a pace McCarthy and Bolaño and Marías could only hope for. Don’t worry Chuck, Bobby, Javi, I’m still yours, but David has earned his place in your esteemed company. I am most pleased that this group seems to have so little in common—other than me.
But first, the obligatory: a MUCH better review is to be found by JN-M here (read it, Like it, then read it again), if I were to quibble at all (and I won’t), I’d question the difficulty of this novel. It requires a commitment of sorts, but I’m reluctant to call it difficult; I’d say of WM what I said of This is Not a Novel: “Some assembly required.”
With this novel (as with the tetralogy, which for the life of me has a very similar ‘feel’), Markson does what the often-referred to Michelangelo said of sculpting—the artist strips away the unnecessary part (of the novel, of the marble slab), leaving a bare-bones orgy of intertextuality, art history, and philosophy, while telling the tale of a madness-prone, lonely, frequently confused woman you want to know in the worst way—and he does this in a most gentle, often humorous voice that leaves the reader (this reader) sated to a level of perfect contentedness.
Readers may find editions with Afterwords by either Steven Moore here (thanks, Moira) or David Foster Wallace here (thanks, s.penx). I especially liked Moore’s suggestion of a Jack Benny pause between some sentences. Sorry, you pups, if that voice isn’t familiar. DFW’s essay is simultaneously academic and casual; keep a dictionary at hand (not that it will help).
*Except for your poems.
**Not you, Kowalski, or Jonke, (or whoever the hell you are) as spectacular as you must be.