paper trail

Jun 7, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

David Markson

This is Not an Obituary: David Markson has died at age eighty-two. Markson, who began his career writing off-kilter genre fiction, kept the unconventional novel alive long after '60s-era critics and readers had retreated to tamer stuff. In books like Wittgenstein’s Mistress (1988), Reader’s Block (1996), and The Is Not a Novel (2001), Markson achieved the grail so many American avant-garde novelists had sought: crafting radical experiments in form that were utterly compelling to read. His conversations about craft were almost as enthralling as his literary output, and proved inspirational for many writers daunted by the blank page (especially David Shields). Here's an interview between Markson and his publisher Dalkey Archive Press from 1989, another interview with Markson from Bookslut in 2005, and one from Conjunctions in 2007. The website HTML Giant has an open thread for Markson mourners. But perhaps the most moving Markson interview is this one from a 2008 edition of the radio show Bookworm, in which he chats about The Last Novel (2007), saying "What I do is essentially leave out most of the baggage of the usual novel: plot, character, dramatic incidents, dramatic scenes, which sounds as if there's nothing much left . . . conveying the nature of the artistic life, most frequently despairs and defeats or sometimes even rotten reviews."

From Times Higher Education: "Drawing the venom from the poison pen of rancorous reviews: Herminio Martins offers a threefold plan to bring order to the 'structural irresponsibility' of academic book reviewing." From Arcade, "If Professors are from Mars, then Journalists are from Pluto: People who cite Derrida often don’t know the work of James Wood, and those who love Wood can’t stand Derrida. Why the divide?" From Open Letters, again with the metacriticism? Time to get on with it: "It has been surprising and exciting to me to realize how blinkered I was about non-academic book culture, and chastening to realize how little use my own specialized reading has been as preparation to join in."

John Waters, who recently published a collection of essays about his heroes, Role Modelsoffers 10 Best Pieces of Advice for functional freaks, grants an interview at the NYT Magazine, and one at Salon

The Associated Press, arbiter of clean copy since 1953, has added a new section to its Style Book to accommodate newfangled terms such as "app," "blog," and "click-through," among others. Meanwhile, the Fake AP Style Book continues to amuse with its almost—but not quite right—proclamations on proper style.