"I don't know where to put the man-and for this I am glad.... Magnificent, a compilation that so exceeds the scatter of its parts that one must take some time to ponder why this should be. ... it's almost impossible to stop turning pages ... we realize: This is not a novel. It's a poem. ...... show more
"I don't know where to put the man-and for this I am glad.... Magnificent, a compilation that so exceeds the scatter of its parts that one must take some time to ponder why this should be. ... it's almost impossible to stop turning pages ... we realize: This is not a novel. It's a poem. ... When I reached the final pages, I felt, as all too seldom, sectioned off from the daily tyranny, released, as in a happy dream, into a kind of referential fugue-the afterlife of reading." Sven Birkerts, The New York Observer "A cultural history of the Western world cast as a bricolage of decontextualized anecdotes, quotations, and facts. ... A lifetime's reading boiled down to sentences that have the terse clarity of epitaphs. ... This rigorously experimental work, of the sort that one tends to slog through dutifully, reads as addictively as an airport thriller." James Gibbons, BookForum "The book does, as Writer hopes, seduce the reader into turning pages. ... Those with investigative proclivities can trace Writer's gloomy preoccupations through the items about how various notables died (and which states of financial destitution). Other items are more enigmatic (why did Henry James hide behind a tree to avoid Ford Madox Ford?), and a handful have an evocative, lovely melancholy: 'When and where did the last person die who still believed in the existence of Zeus?'" Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review This Is Not a Novel is a "novel" like none ever written, with the possible exception of David Markson's own Reader's Block (1996), which Ann Beattie has labeled "a work of genius." This Is Not a Novel is a highly inventive work which drifts "genre-less," somewhere in between fiction, nonfiction, and psychological memoir. In the opening pages of the "novel," a narrator, called only "Writer," announces that he is tired of inventing characters, contemplating plot, setting, theme, and conflict. Yet the writer is determined to seduce the reader into turning pages-and to "get somewhere," nonetheless. What follows are pages crammed with short lines of astonishingly fascinating literary and artistic anecdotes, quotations, and cultural curiosities. This Is Not a Novel is leavened with Markson's deliciously ironic wit and laughter, so that when the writer does indeed finally get us "somewhere" it's the journey will have mattered as much as the arrival.