A postcard David Markson sent to me.
On which Markson wrote:
“Tyler, lad— 18 March ‘10
My God, you left out Willie Mays!
Hey, again, thank you for the kind words, the kind offers, etc. Brief as this will be, I do appreciate all of same.
And I guess I do get by without help—even with, would you believe, a busted wrist at the moment! (I do not advise it, at age 82!)
Let me just wish you all the best of luck with your work. And, truly, sincerest thanks again.
Tonight, in celebration of being back writing Reading Markson Reading again, I decided to share with all my fellow readers (of Markson reading), my most prized Markson possession.
It is not one of my many books once owned by Markson, with or without marginalia.
Not his copy of Don DeLillo’s Mao II with “bullshit” written in Markson’s own handwriting in the margins on seemingly every other page.
Not his copy of James Joyce’s Exiles which, though lacking in marginalia, is still one of my favorites since it is my second favorite author’s personal copy of a book written by my favorite author (even if it is my favorite author’s least interesting work).
Not his copy of Conrad Aiken’s Ushant which has not only Markson’s own signature of ownership in it, but also an inscription from Conrad Aiken to Markson’s wife.
Not his copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake, nor his copy of Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, nor his copy of Jorge Luis Borges’ Selected Poems, nor his copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up, nor his copy of Dante’s Inferno, nor his copy of Homer’s Iliad.
No. My most prized possession is a small little postcard he sent me in response to a letter I sent him.
I wrote him two letters, actually.
And I received two notecards in response.
Both within just days of my having sent the letters.
The above scan is only the second of the two responses.
One letter I handed to him when he made an appearance at the Strand upon the publication of The Last Novel in 2007. The other I sent just a few months before he died in 2010.
This is the response I got on March 18th, 2010.
He died less than three months later on June 4th, 2010.
In the letter I sent him that prompted this response, I had created a short Marksonian list of monumental events that took place in New York City.
Less monumental, actually, and more just peculiar.
One such event I included, I remember, was when the Baronness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven punched William Carlos Williams in the face in 1921 for rejecting her advances.
That is what Markson refers to when he says I “left out Willie Mays!”
I had not included “the catch”—the infamous catch, one of the most memorable defensive plays in all of baseball history, which took place during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
A “‘great’ catch” which Markson, in his review of Shay Oag’s book In the Presence of Death, wrote was followed by “back-slapping exultation.”
My God, you left out Willie Mays!
The rest of the note refers mostly to me offering to help him with anything if he needed it, to which he replied that he does “get by without help.”
And then there’s the mention of his busted wrist.
Dingus gestured vaguely with a hand that Hoke now saw to be bandaged, or rather it was the wrist.
He was a sweet man to respond, and sweeter to have done so twice. And I appreciate, and will treasure, the fact that he wished me “the best of luck” with my writing.
I had told him of the novel I’d been working on, but neither of us could know the other writing project that would announce itself to me only a few months later—after having found, stacked in miles and miles of books at the Strand, some of Markson’s own personal library. Neither of us could have known I’d be reading Markson reading, and blogging about it, such a short time after receiving this notecard.
When I read the books of his I now own, and read what he wrote in many of their margins, I feel as though he’s reading with me, as though we’re discussing whatever book it is, as though he’s talking to me.
But here, in this postcard, he IS actually talking to me. He’s literally addressing me:
And that makes this my most prized Markson possession.
(Someday I’ll share the other postcard he sent me a few years earlier—my other most prized Markson possession.)