30 April 2007

The Last Novel

[We judge books by their covers. This one's sexy.]

We love David Markson here. Ever since Wittgenstein's Mistress and title character's crazy thinking about Clytemnestra's vacation plans with Helen, and Cassandra lurking at windows; shooting out galleries and kiteskating with canvases; and asking Heidegger to name her cat (which reply is Argos--LOL!). We've been hooked. So when we were at the bookstore the other day and we saw the pretty new cover to Markson's latest novel, The Last Novel, well, we just had to get it. For our friend, from whom we promptly borrowed it. The style is. Well, the page looks something this,

The sections in The Last Novel are a little longer. Here are some of our faves.

No further martinis after dinner, Conrad Aiken's physician once commanded.
Following which Aiken frequently refused to eat until practically bedtime.

Stephen Dedalus, at Sandymount, in 1904.
Is he aware that Yeats was born there?

A quirky new impulse of Novelist's, at news of several recent deaths--
Dialing the deceased, in the likelihood that no one would have yet disconnected their answering machines--and contemplating their voices on final eerie time.

Novelist does not own a cat, and thus most certainly could not have thrown one out a window.
Nonetheless he would lay odds that more than one hopscotching reviewer will be reading carelessly enough here to never notice these two sentences and announce that he did so.

Only this tardily realizing--that if he had not made use of his middle name, among the better-known twentieth-century American poets would be a William Williams.

Act. Then call upon the gods.
Says another Euripides fragment.

A heart attack while swimming, Theodore Roethke died of.

For no reason whatsoever, Novelist has just flung his cat out one of his four-flights0up front windows.

It may be essential to Harold Bloom that his audience not know quite what he is talking about.
Commenteth Alfred Kazin--pointing out other immortal phrasings altogether.

It was Beckett's wife who took the call informing them that Beckett had won the Nobel Prize. Her first reaction, even as she turned to tell him:
Quel catastrophe!

The writer Bret Easton Ellis, who imparted to a New York Times reporter that he had been reading the Bible--but then seemed uncertain as to whether in the Old Testament or the New.
Were the stories about Moses or Jesus?
Jesus. I think.

Of no significance whatsoever. But the hospital where Dylan Thomas would die, sixty-one years after the fact, was the one after which Edna Millay had been named.

Old. Tired. Sick. Alone. Broke.

Losing her sight in later life, Constance Garnett arranged to have Russian books read aloud--and then dictated her translations.

1922. Ulysses.
1922. The Waste Land.

1922. Reader's Digest.

A seminonfictional semifiction.
And with its interspersed unattributed quotations at roughest count adding up to a hundred or more.

Theodore Dreiser's general preference for the word kike, rather than Jew.

You have but two topics, yourself and me, and I'm sick of both.
Johnson once told Boswell.

Baseball is what we were, football is what we have become.
Said Mary McGrory.