Beginning (I have no idea what I’m doing)

I have just begun to write my MA thesis. I would also like to point out that I have no idea what I’m doing, but it has begun nonetheless.

Whilst I have no idea what I am doing, I do know that it is about the author David Markson. Never heard of him? I’m not surprised. He was not very widely known during his first thirty-odd years of publishing work, only slightly more widely known during the last twenty-odd, and then slightly more since his death in 2010. But his books were, and remain interesting, fun, difficult and evasive to interpretation, which is what makes them so good.

Here he is, giving a talk in 2007 at the Strand bookstore in New York:


Incidentally, when Markson died, he requested that his entire collection of books (63 boxes) be donated to the Strand. Once word got round it sparked a short lived fever, with fans flocking to the store in order to pick up their copies of Markson’s read, re-read, and annotated copies of literature. It even led to a Tumblr titled “Reading Markson Reading”, although nowadays look this up and all you will get is a page entitled “Baby Feeding Done Right”……

It appears that Markson fever is over. Even the @marksonquotes Twitter account hasn’t posted in two years.

Even so, he still remains an intriguing literary figure, even without the work he produced, his reputation within the New York literary scene and his correspondence with other writers are continuous sources of fascination. But his novels, in particular Wittgenstein’s MistressReader’s BlockThis is not a NovelVanishing Point, and The Last Novel, are works to be enjoyed over and over, for so many reasons. With his idiosyncratic style, delicate prose and relentless wit, these are books that deserve to be read and deciphered. If you don’t believe me, David Foster Wallace described Wittgenstein’s Mistress as ‘pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country’, which, really, would be pretty much the high point of praise for any author indeed.

What I’m trying to say is that you should probably put something by David Markson on your “to read” list.


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