"Markson is the one working novelist I can think of who can claim affinities with Joyce, Gaddis, and Lowry, no less than with Beckett."
"From the erudite Markson...: a terse, modernist novel implying that history is over, the arts finished--yet offering extended, Beckett-like pleasures."
"Hypnotic. Not a novel at all in the usual sense, 'Reader's Block' is a brilliant accumulation of references and allusions sandwiched between the author's notes on the book that he's pointedly not writing. Pretentious? Not for a second. 'Reader's Block' is both playful and, as you gradually learn more about its narrator's solitary life, remarkably poignant."
"No one but Beckett can be quite as sad and funny at the same time as Markson can. This book is nearly an allegory, yet the shifting sands of time have left no clear model for its point of departure."
From the Publisher
In this postmodernist look at the novel, in novel form, "Reader" examines the books he has read over his lifetime. This unconventional fiction was listed by Salon magazine as one of the 10 best books of 1996.
Someone nodded hello to me on the street yesterday.
David Markson, critically acclaimed author of "Wittgenstein's Mistress" (Dalkey, 1988), electrifies his latest novel with unbearable emotional force. An aging author identified only as "Reader" contemplates writing a novel about a writer, called simply "Protagonist," who has left the city and taken a small house adjoining a cemetery. As Reader pursues possibilities for the novel, other matters insistently crowd his consciousness- hundreds of quotations (many unacknowledged) from literary history, cultural gossip: fascinating melange--a lifetime's reading that is evidently almost all he has to show for his decades on earth. Innumerable details about the calamity and despair in most artists' and writers' lives, countless references to those who have committed suicide, the eternal insults of incompetent critics or even fellow artists, the appalling number of bigots in their midst, and details from Reader's own life--out of these materials David Markson has created a novel of remarkable intellectual range. Shoring up Reader's ruins with such fragments, Markson shows that while his fictitious Reader may be blocked in writing his novel, he himself--spellbindingly, stunningly--is not. Markson has hit the magical combination of experimental form and engrossing subject matter to create a novel that will appeal to every kind of intelligent reader.
Editors Note 3
In this spellbinding, utterly unconventional fiction, an aging author who is identified only as Reader contemplates the writing of a novel. As he does, other matters insistently crowd his mind - literary and cultural anecdotes, endless quotations attributed and not, scholarly curiosities - the residue of a lifetime's reading which is apparently all he has to show for his decades on earth. Out of these unlikely yet incontestably fascinating materials - including innumerable details about the madness and calamity in many artists' and writers' lives, the eternal critical affronts, the startling bigotry, the countless suicides - David Markson has created a novel of extraordinary intellectual suggestiveness. But while shoring up Reader's ruins with such fragments, Markson has also managed to electrify his novel with an almost unbearable emotional impact. Where Reader ultimately leads us is shattering.
In this postmodernist look at the novel, in novel form, "Reader" examines the books he has read over his lifetime and the lives of their authors, quoting snippets that interest him, finding parallels between the lives of writers and artists, examining the way people live and die. This unconventional fiction was listed by Salon magazine as one of the 10 best books of 1996.
Editors Note 5
The narrator, Reader, reflects on a lifetime of reading