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Posts Tagged ‘David Markson’

David Markson Has Died

1508.gifExperimental novelist David Markson (pictured, via) passed away this weekend.

In 1988, Markson published the groundbreaking novel, Wittgenstein’s Mistress. Among his other books, he wrote Reader’s Block and Vanishing Point. His novel The Ballad of Dingus Magee was adapted into a film starring Frank Sinatra. This editor will always remember Markson’s two crime novels about a private detective named Harry Fannin–check out an excerpt from Epitaph for a Dead Beat at The Kenyon Review.

Here’s an inspired tribute from journalist Sarah Weinman: “Markson needed the Internet, or more accurately, vice versa, to find his rightful place in the literary world. Quotation appropriation, short declarative sentences, quick bursts with acres of thought, meditation on artists and writers at work, and a tremendous study of consciousness marked Markson’s output since WITTGENSTEIN’S MISTRESS (1988) opened with the phrase ‘In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.’ And as our collective attention spans decreased and dovetailed from mass-market pursuits, there was Markson to clue us in to something greater, more amorphous perhaps, but something that pinged the outer reaches of what he termed ‘seminonfictional semi-fictions.”

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The Hunting of the Book

This week’s edition of New York Magazine has an unusual slant on the obligatory summer reading feature, instead taking a more competitive approach to this season’s most notable debut novels, which MFA students are likely to score big, which authors will be taught in 50 years and what books are regrettably overlooked. Yours truly seems to have lucked out by singling out David Markson‘s work, as Wayne Koestenbaum‘s vote elevates the author of “seminonfictional semifictions” to the so-called winner.

Scene @ the American Academy of Arts and Letters Annual Ceremonial

ceremonial.jpg

What do Joan Acocella, Paul Auster, David Markson, Don DeLillo, John Updike, William Vollmann, Deborah Eisenberg, Stephen Sondheim, Reynolds Price, Richard Ford, Garrison Keillor, Jim Harrison, Mary Gordon, John Corigliano and many, many more luminaries in the literary, artistic and music worlds have in common? They all sat on the stage at the American Academy of Arts & Letters‘ Annual Ceremonial, held in the organization’s Harlem-area auditorium to honor the best and brightest in the arts. Some, like Gold Medal for Fiction winner Updike, have been members for nearly half a century; others, like Dana Spiotta, Junot Diaz, Tony D’Souza and Adam Rapp, received generous monetary awards honoring their recent writing-related outputs.

It may just be my own biased viewpoint that makes me think the Academy is a well-kept secret within the current state of the arts community, but then, it might not: while the turnout was strong, it was decidedly bereft of publishing professionals and those under the age of 35. And Academy President Ezra Laderman‘s opening remarks, highlighting how “we’re in an extraordinary time for the arts” thanks to questions about intellectual property, the decline of a proper arts curricula in any American school and eschewing artistic endeavors for market forces, had just the barest whiff of the old school. And yet it was remarkably clear how much the Academy, and its members, care about the arts and about ensuring that promising writers and artists continue the non-profit’s legacy, and how old school values produce a certain dignity that’s easy to admire. One need only listen to Updike’s spare remarks about how his induction into the Academy as its then-youngest member helped further his career by exposing him to peers as well as “magi-like writers” whom he revered. Bestowing awards onto Diaz and Spiotta is a step to the future, and I look with interest to see which younger writers the Academy recognizes from here on in.

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