A postcard sent to Charles J. Shields from David Markson re: the biography of Kurt Vonnegut that Shields has written.
     On which Markson wrote:     “Dear Charles—                                                                 11/15/07     I’ve a list—everybody’s birthdays—kids, grandchildren, miscl. chums—and at the start of every new yr. I copy them into the new calendar—to remember to send cards, etc. Ergo, when was it?—exactly 4 days ago—what did I see scribbled in at the bottom of 11/11?—“KV B’day.” Meaning, as in recent yrs., I’d have called him in the a.m., just to wish him well. Alas.     (Though 10 days earlier I was still able to phone Knox Burger. You do know the lovely dedication in Monkey House?)     Stay well. My best again—-                                                                                                         Dave M.”
—
     Over this Veterans Day holiday weekend was the late, great Kurt Vonnegut’s bday.
     The above is a postcard that David Markson sent to Vonnegut’s biographer Charles J. Shields a few days after Vonnegut’s birthday in 2007.     That was his first birthday after Vonnegut’s death earlier that year in April.
     If Vonnegut had been alive, Markson’d “have called him in the a.m., just to wish him well.”
     Instead, the classic Marksonian refrain:     “Nobody comes. Nobody calls.”
     “Novelist naturally does receive some few phone calls after all.      All too often in these years with news of someone’s death however.”      - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 63.
     Alas.
     One call between Markson and Vonnegut that took place in the 90s was discussed by Markson in his Conjunctions interview:     “It’s funny. When Reader’s Block came out, Kurt Vonnegut called me, two-thirds of the way through, and said, ‘David, what kind of computer did you use to juggle this stuff?’ I told him what I’d done, and he called me when he finished it and said, ‘David, I’m worried about your mental condition.’”
    And other more melancholy calls made my by Markson:     “He explains that his friends die one after the other, and that he calls their telephone numbers to hear their voices on their answering machines one last time, like voices from the great beyond.”     Wrote Françoise Palleau-Papin on pg. 258 of her book on Markson and his writing: This Is Not A Tragedy.
     “A quirky new impulse of Novelist’s, at news of several recent deaths—     Dialing the deceased, in the likelihood that no one would have yet disconnected their answering machines—and contemplating their voices one eerie final time.”     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 139.
     Reading Markson’s postcards.
     Like a voice from the great beyond.
     Contemplating that voice one eerie final time.
—
     This postcard is owned by Charles J. Shields. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Charles J. Shields.

     A postcard sent to Charles J. Shields from David Markson re: the biography of Kurt Vonnegut that Shields has written.

     On which Markson wrote:
     “Dear Charles—                                                                 11/15/07
     I’ve a list—everybody’s birthdays—kids, grandchildren, miscl. chums—and at the start of every new yr. I copy them into the new calendar—to remember to send cards, etc. Ergo, when was it?—exactly 4 days ago—what did I see scribbled in at the bottom of 11/11?—“KV B’day.” Meaning, as in recent yrs., I’d have called him in the a.m., just to wish him well. Alas.
     (Though 10 days earlier I was still able to phone Knox Burger. You do know the lovely dedication in Monkey House?)
     Stay well. My best again—-
                                                                                                         Dave M.”

     Over this Veterans Day holiday weekend was the late, great Kurt Vonnegut’s bday.

     The above is a postcard that David Markson sent to Vonnegut’s biographer Charles J. Shields a few days after Vonnegut’s birthday in 2007.
     That was his first birthday after Vonnegut’s death earlier that year in April.

     If Vonnegut had been alive, Markson’d “have called him in the a.m., just to wish him well.”

     Instead, the classic Marksonian refrain:
     “Nobody comes. Nobody calls.”

     “Novelist naturally does receive some few phone calls after all.
     All too often in these years with news of someone’s death however.”
     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 63.

     Alas.

     One call between Markson and Vonnegut that took place in the 90s was discussed by Markson in his Conjunctions interview:
     “It’s funny. When Reader’s Block came out, Kurt Vonnegut called me, two-thirds of the way through, and said, ‘David, what kind of computer did you use to juggle this stuff?’ I told him what I’d done, and he called me when he finished it and said, ‘David, I’m worried about your mental condition.’”

    And other more melancholy calls made my by Markson:
     “He explains that his friends die one after the other, and that he calls their telephone numbers to hear their voices on their answering machines one last time, like voices from the great beyond.”
     Wrote Françoise Palleau-Papin on pg. 258 of her book on Markson and his writing: This Is Not A Tragedy.

     “A quirky new impulse of Novelist’s, at news of several recent deaths—
     Dialing the deceased, in the likelihood that no one would have yet disconnected their answering machines—and contemplating their voices one eerie final time.”
     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 139.

     Reading Markson’s postcards.

     Like a voice from the great beyond.

     Contemplating that voice one eerie final time.

     This postcard is owned by Charles J. Shields. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Charles J. Shields.

     Pg. 180 of David Markson’s copy of Ezra Pound: Among the Poets by Various (Ed. George Bornstein):
     On which Markson placed a check next to the following:     “When Eliot died on 4 January 1965, Pound, old, sick, and poor, flew from Italy to attend the memorial service at Westminster Abbey. ‘Who is there now for me to share a joke with?’ he wrote in the Eliot memorial issue of the Sewanee Review.
—
     I’ve done a previous post where Markson, in another book, checked the same line from Pound:     “Who is there now for me to share a joke with?”
     It seems like such a perfect line for Markson to use in one of his last four novels, in his Notecard Quartet, yet surprisingly it is nowhere to be found in those four books.

     Pg. 180 of David Markson’s copy of Ezra Pound: Among the Poets by Various (Ed. George Bornstein):

     On which Markson placed a check next to the following:
     “When Eliot died on 4 January 1965, Pound, old, sick, and poor, flew from Italy to attend the memorial service at Westminster Abbey. ‘Who is there now for me to share a joke with?’ he wrote in the Eliot memorial issue of the Sewanee Review.

     I’ve done a previous post where Markson, in another book, checked the same line from Pound:
     “Who is there now for me to share a joke with?”

     It seems like such a perfect line for Markson to use in one of his last four novels, in his Notecard Quartet, yet surprisingly it is nowhere to be found in those four books.

     The page before the title page of David Markson’s copy of The Delicate Prey and Other Stories by Paul Bowles:
     On which Markson placed his last name as an inscription.
—
     The deaths of both Paul Bowles and his wife Jane are mentioned in the middle of Markson’s novel This Is Not A Novel.
     At the bottom of pg. 88:     “Paul Bowles died of a heart attack.”
     Followed immediately at the top of pg. 89 by:     “Jane Bowles died after a stroke.”

     The page before the title page of David Markson’s copy of The Delicate Prey and Other Stories by Paul Bowles:

     On which Markson placed his last name as an inscription.

     The deaths of both Paul Bowles and his wife Jane are mentioned in the middle of Markson’s novel This Is Not A Novel.

     At the bottom of pg. 88:
     “Paul Bowles died of a heart attack.”

     Followed immediately at the top of pg. 89 by:
     “Jane Bowles died after a stroke.”

     Pg. 89 of David Markson’s T. S. Eliot: The Man and His Work by Various (Ed. Allen Tate):
     On which Markson placed a check in the margin next to a sad and profound remark by Ezra Pound in the wake of T. S. Eliot’s death:      “Who is there now for me to share a joke with?”
—
     Markson, like Ezra Pound, saw many of his contemporaries pass away as he grew older:     “He explains that his friends die one after the other, and that he calls their telephone numbers to hear their voices on their answering machines one last time, like voices from the great beyond.”     Wrote Françoise Palleau-Papin on pg. 258 of her Markson book This Is Not A Tragedy.
     “A quirky new impulse of Novelist’s, at news of several recent deaths—     Dialing the deceased, in the likelihood that no one would have yet disconnected their answering machines—and contemplating their voices one eerie final time.”     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 139.
     “Nobody Comes. Nobody Calls.”     An oft repeated line in Markson’s Notecard Quartet, especially The Last Novel.
     “Novelist naturally does receive some few phone calls after all.      All too often in these years with news of someone’s death however.”      - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 63.
     “Damn, I’m almost sorry you called. Can you even begin to guess how many friends of mine that makes, just in the past year or so?      I assume you’re aware of something else too, chum? At our age, we don’t place them.”      - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 120.
     Who is there now for me to share a joke with?

     Pg. 89 of David Markson’s T. S. Eliot: The Man and His Work by Various (Ed. Allen Tate):

     On which Markson placed a check in the margin next to a sad and profound remark by Ezra Pound in the wake of T. S. Eliot’s death:
     “Who is there now for me to share a joke with?”

     Markson, like Ezra Pound, saw many of his contemporaries pass away as he grew older:
     “He explains that his friends die one after the other, and that he calls their telephone numbers to hear their voices on their answering machines one last time, like voices from the great beyond.”
     Wrote Françoise Palleau-Papin on pg. 258 of her Markson book This Is Not A Tragedy.

     “A quirky new impulse of Novelist’s, at news of several recent deaths—
     Dialing the deceased, in the likelihood that no one would have yet disconnected their answering machines—and contemplating their voices one eerie final time.”
     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 139.

     “Nobody Comes. Nobody Calls.”
     An oft repeated line in Markson’s Notecard Quartet, especially The Last Novel.

     “Novelist naturally does receive some few phone calls after all.
     All too often in these years with news of someone’s death however.”
     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 63.

     “Damn, I’m almost sorry you called. Can you even begin to guess how many friends of mine that makes, just in the past year or so?
     I assume you’re aware of something else too, chum? At our age, we don’t place them.”
     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 120.

     Who is there now for me to share a joke with?


     A postcard sent to Charles J. Shields from David Markson re: the biography of Kurt Vonnegut that Shields has written.
     On which Markson wrote:     “Dear Charles—                                                                 Feb 7 ‘08     Sked for pub in mid-2009? Hey, hurry it up! I just turned 80 in December! Will I last?     I jest. Sounds like you’re working 17 hours a day. All profoundest good luck on it. And, I’ll be here!                                                                                               My best—                                                                                                         Dave M.”
—
     Four years ago, in February 2008, Markson sent this notecard to Charles J. Shields re: Shields’ biography of Kurt Vonnegut titled And So It Goes…     Charles J. Shields’ book was finally published late last year.
     I conducted an interview with him re: Vonnegut and the new book last November.     And I also conducted a shorter interview about his relationship with Markson.
     Unfortunately, even though he wrote “I’ll be here,” Markson was sadly no longer with us by the time Shields was able to publish his Vonnegut bio.
     So it goes.
—
     This postcard is owned by Charles J. Shields. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Charles J. Shields.

     A postcard sent to Charles J. Shields from David Markson re: the biography of Kurt Vonnegut that Shields has written.

     On which Markson wrote:
     “Dear Charles—                                                                 Feb 7 ‘08
     Sked for pub in mid-2009? Hey, hurry it up! I just turned 80 in December! Will I last?
     I jest. Sounds like you’re working 17 hours a day. All profoundest good luck on it. And, I’ll be here!
                                                                                               My best—
                                                                                                         Dave M.”

     Four years ago, in February 2008, Markson sent this notecard to Charles J. Shields re: Shields’ biography of Kurt Vonnegut titled And So It Goes…
     Charles J. Shields’ book was finally published late last year.

     I conducted an interview with him re: Vonnegut and the new book last November.
     And I also conducted a shorter interview about his relationship with Markson.

     Unfortunately, even though he wrote “I’ll be here,” Markson was sadly no longer with us by the time Shields was able to publish his Vonnegut bio.

     So it goes.

     This postcard is owned by Charles J. Shields. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Charles J. Shields.

     Pg. 131 of David Markson’s copy of The Essential Shakespeare: A Biographical Adventure by John Dover Wilson:
     On which Markson has placed a check next to the following information:     “Cymbeline, it must be remembered, was Tennyson’s favourite play, and his precious copy was buried with him.”
—-
     The above information shows up on pg. 130 of Markson’s Reader’s Block:     “Tennyson was reading Cymbeline when he died.  His copy of the play was put into his coffin.”
     One of the many types of items of intellectual interest that keeps popping up throughout the tetralogy is information about the books artists want to make sure they read (or read again) before they die as well as the last books artists actually read on their deathbeds.
     “Why does it sadden Reader to realize he will almost certainly never know what book will turn out to be the last he ever read?”     Questions Markson on pg. 181 of Reader’s Block.
     Touching upon the bigger predicament that forms the main thematic arc of the books: the artist in the face of death, old age, failing health, loneliness, uncertainty, chaos, annihilation…
     I’ve started calling the tetralogy The Notecard Quartet, because the books were famously written on plain white notecards, but perhaps a better name would have been:     A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man      Yes??? No??? Maybe so???

     Pg. 131 of David Markson’s copy of The Essential Shakespeare: A Biographical Adventure by John Dover Wilson:

     On which Markson has placed a check next to the following information:
     “Cymbeline, it must be remembered, was Tennyson’s favourite play, and his precious copy was buried with him.”

—-

     The above information shows up on pg. 130 of Markson’s Reader’s Block:
     “Tennyson was reading Cymbeline when he died.  His copy of the play was put into his coffin.”

     One of the many types of items of intellectual interest that keeps popping up throughout the tetralogy is information about the books artists want to make sure they read (or read again) before they die as well as the last books artists actually read on their deathbeds.

     “Why does it sadden Reader to realize he will almost certainly never know what book will turn out to be the last he ever read?”
     Questions Markson on pg. 181 of Reader’s Block.

     Touching upon the bigger predicament that forms the main thematic arc of the books: the artist in the face of death, old age, failing health, loneliness, uncertainty, chaos, annihilation…

     I’ve started calling the tetralogy The Notecard Quartet, because the books were famously written on plain white notecards, but perhaps a better name would have been:
     A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man
     Yes??? No??? Maybe so???


     Pg. 405 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:
     On which David Markson has placed a check next to the following sentence re: Rilke’s death:      “At midnight he want into a coma, while Nanny Wunderly and the doctor  kept a vigil, and lay thus for a time, until at 3:30 in the morning of  29 December he raised his head, eyes wide open, and fell back dead in  Haemmerli’s arms.”
—
     Rilke’s death is first mentioned in Markson’s Notecard Quartet, though in quick passing, on pg. 31 of Markson’s Reader’s Block:     “Rilke died of leukemia.”
     Then, later, on pg. 183 of Markson’s Vanishing Point, we read:     “The legend that Rilke died after being pricked by the thorn of a rose.     Actually, from leukemia.     Valmont, near Glion, Switzerland. 3:30 A.M. December 29, 1926.”
—
     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 405 of David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater:

     On which David Markson has placed a check next to the following sentence re: Rilke’s death:
     “At midnight he want into a coma, while Nanny Wunderly and the doctor kept a vigil, and lay thus for a time, until at 3:30 in the morning of 29 December he raised his head, eyes wide open, and fell back dead in Haemmerli’s arms.”

     Rilke’s death is first mentioned in Markson’s Notecard Quartet, though in quick passing, on pg. 31 of Markson’s Reader’s Block:
     “Rilke died of leukemia.”

     Then, later, on pg. 183 of Markson’s Vanishing Point, we read:
     “The legend that Rilke died after being pricked by the thorn of a rose.
     Actually, from leukemia.
     Valmont, near Glion, Switzerland. 3:30 A.M. December 29, 1926.”

     David Markson’s copy of A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke by Donald Prater is owned by John Harrison. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © John Harrison.

     Pg. 637 of David Markson’s copy of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia:
     On which Markson has written a check in the margin next to the Emily Dickinson line:     “I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground—because I am afraid.”
—
     In Markson’s last novel The Last Novel we find:     “I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground—because I am afraid.” (Pg. 30).
     Why do we write?     An ever-present, if unstated, question in Markson’s Notecard Quartet (his final four novels).
     “I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground—because I am afraid.”
     We write out of fear of death?

     Pg. 637 of David Markson’s copy of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia:

     On which Markson has written a check in the margin next to the Emily Dickinson line:
     “I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground—because I am afraid.”

     In Markson’s last novel The Last Novel we find:
     “I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground—because I am afraid.” (Pg. 30).

     Why do we write?
    
An ever-present, if unstated, question in Markson’s Notecard Quartet (his final four novels).

     “I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground—because I am afraid.”

     We write out of fear of death?

     Pg. 578 of David Markson’s copy of Faulkner: A Biography by Joseph Leo Blotner:
     On which Markson places a line next to and then responds to Blotner’s assertion that Faulkner did not go to the funeral of Dylan Thomas.
     Markson explaining in the margin:     “Absolutely not so—I saw him there!”
—
     Absolutely not so—I saw him there!
     Markson corrects Blotner not just in the margins of the biography itself, but in his novel Reader’s Block:     “The Blotner biography says that although he was in New York, Faulkner did not attend the memorial service held after Dylan Thomas’s death. In fact he wore a gray tweed jacket, an emerald vestm abd a Tyrolean hat. With a feather.” (Pg. 85)
     One must also assume this must be the funeral Markson is speaking of on pg. 161 of This Is Not A Novel?
     “Writer had but a glimpse of Faulkner.”     And a few lines later:     “Faulkner, at a funeral. Small and beady-eyed.”
     Of course, Markson is not the only one to correct Blotner on this point.
     In a later Faulkner biography, One Matchless Time: A Life of WIlliam Faulkner, Jay Parini writes of Faulkner:      “One night, he ran into Dylan Thomas, and they greeted each other warmly; a few nights later, on November 9, 1953, Thomas was dead, the victim of an acute alcoholic ‘insult to the brain,’ as the doctors put it. Faulkner attended the funeral with Joan.” (Pg. 357.)
     Yes, we know: Markson…                                             …saw him there!

     Pg. 578 of David Markson’s copy of Faulkner: A Biography by Joseph Leo Blotner:

     On which Markson places a line next to and then responds to Blotner’s assertion that Faulkner did not go to the funeral of Dylan Thomas.

     Markson explaining in the margin:
     “Absolutely not so—I saw him there!”

     Absolutely not so—I saw him there!

     Markson corrects Blotner not just in the margins of the biography itself, but in his novel Reader’s Block:
     “The Blotner biography says that although he was in New York, Faulkner did not attend the memorial service held after Dylan Thomas’s death. In fact he wore a gray tweed jacket, an emerald vestm abd a Tyrolean hat. With a feather.” (Pg. 85)

     One must also assume this must be the funeral Markson is speaking of on pg. 161 of This Is Not A Novel?

     “Writer had but a glimpse of Faulkner.”
     And a few lines later:
     “Faulkner, at a funeral. Small and beady-eyed.”

     Of course, Markson is not the only one to correct Blotner on this point.

     In a later Faulkner biography, One Matchless Time: A Life of WIlliam Faulkner, Jay Parini writes of Faulkner:
     “One night, he ran into Dylan Thomas, and they greeted each other warmly; a few nights later, on November 9, 1953, Thomas was dead, the victim of an acute alcoholic ‘insult to the brain,’ as the doctors put it. Faulkner attended the funeral with Joan.” (Pg. 357.)

     Yes, we know: Markson…
                                             …saw him there!