Some assembly required, this novel does.
If you’ve read any of what’s called Markson’s tetralogy (there is no series or unifying name provided by the author), you’ll recognize the format of that sentence. If you haven’t read any of the tetralogy, you’re missing out.Between the scores of facts, quotes, names, places and dates, Writer occasionally pokes his head up to remind us that we are, in fact, reading a novel, or something like a novel, or something like almost anything else Writer thinks of. [Damned danglers] Remind us that all stories, if told in full, lead to death. Remind us of this incredible tradition (the Literary tradition) that we participate in. [‘nother dangler] Remind us, encourage us, spur us on—making some (me) want to sit at the computer googling all the names, dates, places, quotes, I don’t recognize—makes me want to read more.
Having now read three of the four, I’m anxious to get to the last so I can, in fact, pursue the entries (google ‘em). I love the inverted sentence structure on some entries, almost as if they are the contents of the index cards mentioned in Vanishing Point, and filed by their first words:
I love the odd, sad way Markson adds emphasis to items in a list:The Delaware River, Einstein’s ashes were scattered in.
The likelihood that Ann Hathaway could not read.
Botticelli spent his last years on crutches.
And on charity.
I love the strange or humorous fleeting thoughts of Writer as his list goes on and on:Botticelli.
orRealizing idly that every artist in history—until Writer’s own century—rode horseback.
A literary recreation for those of a literary bent—or, maybe just those of us who are bent.I was, with God’s help, born poor.