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. 35  of David Markson’s copy of Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut:
     On which Markson placed a check next to the rules of Nelson Algren that Vonnegut relays:     “The three rules are, of course: Never eat at a place called Mom’s, never play cards with a man named Doc, and most important, never go to bed with anybody who has more troubles than you do.”
—
     Keep thinking about that last one (the most important one):     “Never go to bed with anybody who has more troubles than you do.”
     I’m reminded of Vonnegut’s wife, Jill Krementz.     Though who really knows who had more troubles, Kurt or Jill?
     Krementz was a photographer who, in 1970, decided to “fill the  author picture vacuum” and began a large collection of author photos.
     She is mentioned, in this capacity, in Markson’s Springer’s Progress:     “Truer gauge of how gemlike’s his flame. Never been asked to pose for Jill Krementz.”     (Pg. 103)
     Though Markson had something more to say of her in private to Vonnegut biographer Charles J. Shields years later…     When I interviewed Shields, he said to me of Markson:     “He told a story about his impressions of Jill Krementz, Kurt’s wife, at Vonnegut’s memorial service. But I’d rather not repeat it.”
     Someone on Amazon wrote about how Jill Krementz comes off in Shields’ Vonnegut biography And So It Goes by saying:     “Jill Krementz, a photographer who comes off in the book as having the charm and graciousness of Lady Macbeth.”     I loved that description so much I had to include it here.
     Shields wrote in the biography of the marital problems of Kurt and Jill that were taking place at the exact same time as Kurt was publishing the book from which the above scan is taken, Fates Worse Than Death:     “To make it clear that Kurt was no longer wanted, Jill changed the locks on their home on East Forty-eighth Street and emptied the rooms and closets of his belongings. According to a statement he later supplied to his attorney, the breathlessness with which she announced to him that she and DuBrul were in love and talking marriage was almost as though Vonnegut were ‘her daddy rather than her husband. She also called several friends to tell them the wonderful news of the divorce and remarriage in prospect.’ All the details came pouring out. Days she had supposedly gone on photo shoots she had been with DuBrul. Nights when she left work in her gallery across the street were excuses for rendezvous.     The whole business struck Vonnegut as ‘lugubrious, ill-natured, low comedy’—except for the maddening inconvenience of being banned from his own home.     In a way, though, Kurt was’t surprised that his ‘unloving wife, wholly without domestic skills,’ who could barely stand to have him ‘touch her Rolodex,’ finally wanted out of the marriage. Not was he all that amazed when she changed the locks on the brownstone he owned so he couldn’t live there. What really took him aback were her final requests of him: make haste in divrcing her, ‘remember her’ in his will, and please leave her a parking space for her Cadillac in a nearby garage.”     (Pgs. 385-386)
     His first wife, Jane, could see Jill’s problems, and oddly forecasted:     Jill Krementz “will find ways to cut you off from your home, your friends, and your own conscience.”     Quoted Charles J. Shields on pg. 292 of And So It Goes.     Strange that Jill would literally end up locking him out of his own home not once, but twice.
     Later, after DuBrul left Jill, she wanted Vonnegut back, and didn’t want the divorce any longer (they hadn’t yet officially divorced).     “He didn’t agree,” wrote Shields on pg. 389 of the biography. “She had mistreated him, ‘the half-dead goose which laid golden eggs for her for so many years,’ and he wanted a divorce on any grounds with as little fanfare as possible.”
     Yet, they never got divorced.      Though Vonnegut filed for a divorce a total of three separate times, they always reconciled—but their relationship was apparently always on the rocks, if Shields’ descriptions are to be believed, and she was very icy towards him, and incredibly cruel at times.
     On pg. 392, Shields writes of Vonnegut explaining to one of his daughters why he was reconciling with Jill:     “To Nanny, he offered the plaintive excuse that Jill was his ‘disease.’”
     Never go to bed with anybody who has more troubles than you do.
     His disease?
     Fates worse than death…
     But hey at least she was beautiful, according to Vonnegut:     “Scientists of the future will want to know if any of the photographs of Jill in this book have been retouched. No. Let them explain, if they can, why it was that the older she was the more beautiful she became.”     - Kurt Vonnegut, Fates Worse Than Death, pg. 90.
     “I never knew a writer’s wife who wasn’t beautiful.     Said Kurt Vonnegut.”     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 101.

     Pg. 35 of David Markson’s copy of Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut:

     On which Markson placed a check next to the rules of Nelson Algren that Vonnegut relays:
     “The three rules are, of course: Never eat at a place called Mom’s, never play cards with a man named Doc, and most important, never go to bed with anybody who has more troubles than you do.”

     Keep thinking about that last one (the most important one):
     “Never go to bed with anybody who has more troubles than you do.”

     I’m reminded of Vonnegut’s wife, Jill Krementz.
     Though who really knows who had more troubles, Kurt or Jill?

     Krementz was a photographer who, in 1970, decided to “fill the author picture vacuum” and began a large collection of author photos.

     She is mentioned, in this capacity, in Markson’s Springer’s Progress:
     “Truer gauge of how gemlike’s his flame. Never been asked to pose for Jill Krementz.”
     (Pg. 103)

     Though Markson had something more to say of her in private to Vonnegut biographer Charles J. Shields years later…
     When I interviewed Shields, he said to me of Markson:
     “He told a story about his impressions of Jill Krementz, Kurt’s wife, at Vonnegut’s memorial service. But I’d rather not repeat it.

     Someone on Amazon wrote about how Jill Krementz comes off in Shields’ Vonnegut biography And So It Goes by saying:
     “Jill Krementz, a photographer who comes off in the book as having the charm and graciousness of Lady Macbeth.”
     I loved that description so much I had to include it here.

     Shields wrote in the biography of the marital problems of Kurt and Jill that were taking place at the exact same time as Kurt was publishing the book from which the above scan is taken, Fates Worse Than Death:
     “To make it clear that Kurt was no longer wanted, Jill changed the locks on their home on East Forty-eighth Street and emptied the rooms and closets of his belongings. According to a statement he later supplied to his attorney, the breathlessness with which she announced to him that she and DuBrul were in love and talking marriage was almost as though Vonnegut were ‘her daddy rather than her husband. She also called several friends to tell them the wonderful news of the divorce and remarriage in prospect.’ All the details came pouring out. Days she had supposedly gone on photo shoots she had been with DuBrul. Nights when she left work in her gallery across the street were excuses for rendezvous.
     The whole business struck Vonnegut as ‘lugubrious, ill-natured, low comedy’—except for the maddening inconvenience of being banned from his own home.
     In a way, though, Kurt was’t surprised that his ‘unloving wife, wholly without domestic skills,’ who could barely stand to have him ‘touch her Rolodex,’ finally wanted out of the marriage. Not was he all that amazed when she changed the locks on the brownstone he owned so he couldn’t live there. What really took him aback were her final requests of him: make haste in divrcing her, ‘remember her’ in his will, and please leave her a parking space for her Cadillac in a nearby garage.”
     (Pgs. 385-386)

     His first wife, Jane, could see Jill’s problems, and oddly forecasted:
     Jill Krementz “will find ways to cut you off from your home, your friends, and your own conscience.”
     Quoted Charles J. Shields on pg. 292 of And So It Goes.
     Strange that Jill would literally end up locking him out of his own home not once, but twice.

     Later, after DuBrul left Jill, she wanted Vonnegut back, and didn’t want the divorce any longer (they hadn’t yet officially divorced).
     “He didn’t agree,” wrote Shields on pg. 389 of the biography. “She had mistreated him, ‘the half-dead goose which laid golden eggs for her for so many years,’ and he wanted a divorce on any grounds with as little fanfare as possible.”

     Yet, they never got divorced.
     Though Vonnegut filed for a divorce a total of three separate times, they always reconciled—but their relationship was apparently always on the rocks, if Shields’ descriptions are to be believed, and she was very icy towards him, and incredibly cruel at times.

     On pg. 392, Shields writes of Vonnegut explaining to one of his daughters why he was reconciling with Jill:
     “To Nanny, he offered the plaintive excuse that Jill was his ‘disease.’”

     Never go to bed with anybody who has more troubles than you do.

     His disease?

     Fates worse than death…

     But hey at least she was beautiful, according to Vonnegut:
     “Scientists of the future will want to know if any of the photographs of Jill in this book have been retouched. No. Let them explain, if they can, why it was that the older she was the more beautiful she became.”
     - Kurt Vonnegut, Fates Worse Than Death, pg. 90.

     “I never knew a writer’s wife who wasn’t beautiful.
     Said Kurt Vonnegut.”
     - David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 101.

     The back side of a postcard sent to Charles J. Shields from David Markson re: the biography of Kurt Vonnegut And So It Goes that Shields wrote and recently published.
—
     It’s Thanksgiving, and one thing I’m particularly thankful for this year is the outpouring of support over the last 13 months or so of Reading Markson Reading.
     Major thanks to all my readers. It’s nice to have other people with whom I can read Markson reading.
     Also, various people who knew Markson have sent me kind notes of appreciation for what I am doing. And I thank them for those.
     And other literary-types whom I won’t name drop have dropped a line to say they like what I’m doing here. Much thanks as well.
     It’s a lot of work to post a scan every day and comment on it, but it’s also very interesting and rewarding work.
     One of the rewards that I am truly thankful for is having been able to start an acquaintanceship with biographer Charles J. Shields. He was kind enough to e-mail me and offer up scans of his correspondence with Markson. He had been in contact with Markson in regards to the biography of Kurt Vonnegut that he had been writing.
     Unfortunately, just as Vonnegut died before Shields’ book was published, so too did Markson. But it is finally published—this month in fact!—so pick it up at your local book store: And So It Goes.
     I spoke with Shields about his Vonnegut biography in an article for PMc Magazine, but I also asked him some additional bonus questions about Markson which did not appear in that Vonnegut-based interview, but which i will include here:
     Q: How did you first get in contact with Markson?
     A: I read an interview with him in which he mentioned Kurt. Vonnegut, and Kurt’s first editor, Knox Burger, knew David well. I called him and arranged to come by his apartment.
     Q: Did you ever meet him face-to-face or just correspond via his infamous plain white index cards?
     A: David and I had a lovely talk in his apartment in Greenwich Village. It was small, neat, and lined with bookshelves. He worked at a little secretary desk in one corner near a window overlooking the street. Rather monkish.     He was eager for companionship and followed me to the door, continuing to tell stories and ask questions. Now and then, he called or wrote. I tried to take him to lunch several times, but after he was diagnosed with a serious illness, he seemed to lose all heart.
     Q: What was your sense of Markson the man and Markson the artist?
     A: So many men of that generation are different from the current generation. Markson was typical: very masculine, unabashed in his desire for women, a member of the secret fraternity of male dogs. His books express his angst; but outwardly, he was a good buddy.
     Q: Do you have any funny story about Markson? Or interesting anecdote?
     A: He told a story about his impressions of Jill Krementz, Kurt’s wife, at Vonnegut’s memorial service. But I’d rather not repeat it.
     Q: How would you describe Markson’s and Vonnegut’s relationship?
     A: Markson thought Kurt was kind and he recounted episodes when Vonnegut inquired about his work or offered help. David also admired Kurt’s popularlity. He would have like to be as recognized.
     Q: How do you think the two writers were similar or different?
     A: Both men were philosophers, thinkers. They wanted to create novels out of ideas, not plot or characters. That’s a courageous thing to do, artistically. Markson hoped to be appreciated for his risk-taking; Kurt managed to find the golden mean.
     Q: What was Markson’s contribution to your new Vonnegut biography And So It Goes?
     A: By and large, David corroborated other things people had said. The post-war publishing community was small, and Markson belonged to the same in-crowd as Vonnegut.      Where David was particularly helpful was in explaining more about the falling out between Knox Burger and Kurt, which Knox preferred not to explain. That was a turning point in Kurt’s career, and some would argue, not for the better.
—
     This postcard is owned by Charles J. Shields. The above scan is used with his permission. Copyright © Charles J. Shields.

     The back side of a postcard sent to Charles J. Shields from David Markson re: the biography of Kurt Vonnegut And So It Goes that Shields wrote and recently published.

     It’s Thanksgiving, and one thing I’m particularly thankful for this year is the outpouring of support over the last 13 months or so of Reading Markson Reading.

     Major thanks to all my readers. It’s nice to have other people with whom I can read Markson reading.

     Also, various people who knew Markson have sent me kind notes of appreciation for what I am doing. And I thank them for those.

     And other literary-types whom I won’t name drop have dropped a line to say they like what I’m doing here. Much thanks as well.

     It’s a lot of work to post a scan every day and comment on it, but it’s also very interesting and rewarding work.

     One of the rewards that I am truly thankful for is having been able to start an acquaintanceship with biographer Charles J. Shields. He was kind enough to e-mail me and offer up scans of his correspondence with Markson. He had been in contact with Markson in regards to the biography of Kurt Vonnegut that he had been writing.

     Unfortunately, just as Vonnegut died before Shields’ book was published, so too did Markson. But it is finally published—this month in fact!—so pick it up at your local book store: And So It Goes.

     I spoke with Shields about his Vonnegut biography in an article for PMc Magazine, but I also asked him some additional bonus questions about Markson which did not appear in that Vonnegut-based interview, but which i will include here:

     Q: How did you first get in contact with Markson?

     A: I read an interview with him in which he mentioned Kurt. Vonnegut, and Kurt’s first editor, Knox Burger, knew David well. I called him and arranged to come by his apartment.

     Q: Did you ever meet him face-to-face or just correspond via his infamous plain white index cards?

     A: David and I had a lovely talk in his apartment in Greenwich Village. It was small, neat, and lined with bookshelves. He worked at a little secretary desk in one corner near a window overlooking the street. Rather monkish.
     He was eager for companionship and followed me to the door, continuing to tell stories and ask questions. Now and then, he called or wrote. I tried to take him to lunch several times, but after he was diagnosed with a serious illness, he seemed to lose all heart.

     Q: What was your sense of Markson the man and Markson the artist?

     A: So many men of that generation are different from the current generation. Markson was typical: very masculine, unabashed in his desire for women, a member of the secret fraternity of male dogs. His books express his angst; but outwardly, he was a good buddy.

     Q: Do you have any funny story about Markson? Or interesting anecdote?

     A: He told a story about his impressions of Jill Krementz, Kurt’s wife, at Vonnegut’s memorial service. But I’d rather not repeat it.

     Q: How would you describe Markson’s and Vonnegut’s relationship?

     A: Markson thought Kurt was kind and he recounted episodes when Vonnegut inquired about his work or offered help. David also admired Kurt’s popularlity. He would have like to be as recognized.

     Q: How do you think the two writers were similar or different?

     A: Both men were philosophers, thinkers. They wanted to create novels out of ideas, not plot or characters. That’s a courageous thing to do, artistically. Markson hoped to be appreciated for his risk-taking; Kurt managed to find the golden mean.

     Q: What was Markson’s contribution to your new Vonnegut biography And So It Goes?

     A: By and large, David corroborated other things people had said. The post-war publishing community was small, and Markson belonged to the same in-crowd as Vonnegut.
     Where David was particularly helpful was in explaining more about the falling out between Knox Burger and Kurt, which Knox preferred not to explain. That was a turning point in Kurt’s career, and some would argue, not for the better.

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

      Pg. 54  of David Markson’s copy of Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut:
     On which Markson placed a check next to Vonnegut’s mention of Donald Barthelme’s memorial.
—-
     I do not know whether or not Markson attended Barthelme’s memorial, but Markson was friendly with the writer.
     Markson mentioned Barthelme in his novel Reader’s Block:     “For Protagonist’s less distant literary past:     Donald Barthelme: Tell me what you’ve been up to.     Protagonist: You’ll be sorry you asked. Do you want to hear about the lung cancer surgery I just had, or the prostate cancer surgery I’m going to have?     Donald Barthelme: Talk. And then I’ll tell you about my throat cancer.” (Pg. 160).
     Markson further spoke of his relationship with Barthelme:     “I lived over near Sixth, and so I’d frequently walk up West Eleventh and we’d run into each other. He was a famous writer, and I had no reputation at all, so I was always kind of quiet around him. He was the Donald Barthelme”     As quoted in Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme by Tracy Daugherty. (Pg. 412).
     Markson then goes on to tell, in that Barthelme biography, a nice little story about Donald Barthelme wanting to “tell David Markson that he’s not always coming out of that liquor store.”     And Markson’s reply:     “I, of course, went to a different liquor store, and was probably there more often than Don was in his!” (Pg. 412).

     Pg. 54 of David Markson’s copy of Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut:

     On which Markson placed a check next to Vonnegut’s mention of Donald Barthelme’s memorial.

—-

     I do not know whether or not Markson attended Barthelme’s memorial, but Markson was friendly with the writer.

     Markson mentioned Barthelme in his novel Reader’s Block:
     “For Protagonist’s less distant literary past:
     Donald Barthelme: Tell me what you’ve been up to.
     Protagonist: You’ll be sorry you asked. Do you want to hear about the lung cancer surgery I just had, or the prostate cancer surgery I’m going to have?
     Donald Barthelme: Talk. And then I’ll tell you about my throat cancer.” (Pg. 160).

     Markson further spoke of his relationship with Barthelme:
     “I lived over near Sixth, and so I’d frequently walk up West Eleventh and we’d run into each other. He was a famous writer, and I had no reputation at all, so I was always kind of quiet around him. He was the Donald Barthelme”
     As quoted in Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme by Tracy Daugherty. (Pg. 412).

     Markson then goes on to tell, in that Barthelme biography, a nice little story about Donald Barthelme wanting to “tell David Markson that he’s not always coming out of that liquor store.”
     And Markson’s reply:
     “I, of course, went to a different liquor store, and was probably there more often than Don was in his!” (Pg. 412).

     Pg. 39 of David Markson’s copy of Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut:
     On which Markson has placed a check in the top right corner on the first page of the chapter in which his own name is mentioned.
—-
     The mention of Markson in Vonnegut’s Timequake, which I spoke about in a previous post, was in praise of Reader’s Block.
     Vonnegut wrote of Markson:     “David shouldn’t thank Fate for letting him write such a good book in a  time when large numbers of people could no longer be wowed by a novel,  no matter how excellent.” (Timequake, pg. 40).
     Markson also mentioned Vonnegut in his own novels, but more in a factual sense, rather then giving any sort of praise (other than the obvious praise of including him in the company of the other great and important figures mentioned).       For instance:     “Kurt Vonnegut once played chess against Garry Kasparov. And was cunning enough to resign after very few moves.      Even though Kasparov was playing a dozen or more games simultaneously.” (Vanishing Point, pg. 171).      Or:     “A passing thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s, re Princess Diana:      Do we know if she ever read a book?" (This Is Not A Novel, pg. 113).
     A little known instance of Markson mentioning Vonnegut also appears in a poem (“JOHANNA”) in Markson’s Collected Poems:     “My daughter needing half a dollar takes     A ten and promises the change.     She brings me four, the balance having gone     On Vonnegut and Margaret Mead.     I notice both that evening at her desk     Beside a Taming of the Shrew     And Strunk and White on elements of style.     She’ll be at college in the fall.     One summer day I flung her round my neck     And ran so fast she vomited for joy." (Pg. 23).

     Pg. 39 of David Markson’s copy of Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut:

     On which Markson has placed a check in the top right corner on the first page of the chapter in which his own name is mentioned.

—-

     The mention of Markson in Vonnegut’s Timequake, which I spoke about in a previous post, was in praise of Reader’s Block.

     Vonnegut wrote of Markson:
     “David shouldn’t thank Fate for letting him write such a good book in a time when large numbers of people could no longer be wowed by a novel, no matter how excellent.” (Timequake, pg. 40).

     Markson also mentioned Vonnegut in his own novels, but more in a factual sense, rather then giving any sort of praise (other than the obvious praise of including him in the company of the other great and important figures mentioned). 
     For instance:
     “Kurt Vonnegut once played chess against Garry Kasparov. And was cunning enough to resign after very few moves.
     Even though Kasparov was playing a dozen or more games simultaneously.” (Vanishing Point, pg. 171).
     Or:
     “A passing thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s, re Princess Diana:
     Do we know if she ever read a book?
" (This Is Not A Novel, pg. 113).

     A little known instance of Markson mentioning Vonnegut also appears in a poem (“JOHANNA”) in Markson’s Collected Poems:
     “My daughter needing half a dollar takes
     A ten and promises the change.
     She brings me four, the balance having gone
     On Vonnegut and Margaret Mead.
     I notice both that evening at her desk
     Beside a Taming of the Shrew
     And Strunk and White on elements of style.
     She’ll be at college in the fall.
     One summer day I flung her round my neck
     And ran so fast she vomited for joy." (Pg. 23).

     Pg. 127  of David Markson’s copy of Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut:
     On which Markson placed a checkmark next to the following sentences:     “The myth at the core of the political family which calls itself ‘Neo-Conservatives’ isn’t that explicit, but I know what it is, even if most of them can’t put it into words.  This is it: They are British aristocrats, graduates of Oxford or Cambridge, living in the world as it was one hundred years ago.”
—-
     Sadly, American foreign policy—whether Republicans or Democrats are in power—seems dominated by people “living in the world as it was one hundred years ago.”  The Neo-Cons are only the worst of us in this regard, but Americans in general prefer to live under this delusion that America is infallible, that we are the kings in this chess game and everyone else our pawns, that we have the right to be nation-builders (and nation-destroyers), and that no matter what happens we will always be the world’s greatest superpower.
     These are all delusions of grandeur.
     Must we remind ourselves that not only was Rome not built in a day, but it wasn’t destroyed in one either.
     Or as Markson wrote in Vanishing Point:     “Given pause by the coincidence of the Declaration of Independence having been signed in the same year as the publication of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” (Pg. 176).
     All this reminds me, unsurprisingly, of our previous president, George W. Bush—undeniably one of the worst our nation has ever had—who exemplifies this trend of troubling American exceptionalism and so-called “cowboy diplomacy,” along with the other major problematic aspect of American culture: the fact that we as a people tend to be proud of our own ignorance.
     As though the intellectual culture that Markson so obviously reveres is something arcane and trivial, as though it should be mocked and/or depreciated and/or disregarded and/or disapproved of and/or openly battled against.
     When asked in an interview about his mentioning of George W. Bush and Rush Limbaugh in his last novel, The Last Novel, Markson replied:     “I hesitated about that; I usually don’t do it. My  attitude is that everybody should know even the most obscure painter or  composer. But fucking George W. Bush? A hundred years from now? Who will  know him any more than they know Chester Alan Arthur? Well, no, it’s  different, because he may end the world. But I think I released some  braces with this book when I let myself mention those few people.”     From the Conjunctions Interview.

     Pg. 127 of David Markson’s copy of Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut:

     On which Markson placed a checkmark next to the following sentences:
     “The myth at the core of the political family which calls itself ‘Neo-Conservatives’ isn’t that explicit, but I know what it is, even if most of them can’t put it into words.  This is it: They are British aristocrats, graduates of Oxford or Cambridge, living in the world as it was one hundred years ago.”

—-

     Sadly, American foreign policy—whether Republicans or Democrats are in power—seems dominated by people “living in the world as it was one hundred years ago.”  The Neo-Cons are only the worst of us in this regard, but Americans in general prefer to live under this delusion that America is infallible, that we are the kings in this chess game and everyone else our pawns, that we have the right to be nation-builders (and nation-destroyers), and that no matter what happens we will always be the world’s greatest superpower.

     These are all delusions of grandeur.

     Must we remind ourselves that not only was Rome not built in a day, but it wasn’t destroyed in one either.

     Or as Markson wrote in Vanishing Point:
     “Given pause by the coincidence of the Declaration of Independence having been signed in the same year as the publication of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” (Pg. 176).

     All this reminds me, unsurprisingly, of our previous president, George W. Bush—undeniably one of the worst our nation has ever had—who exemplifies this trend of troubling American exceptionalism and so-called “cowboy diplomacy,” along with the other major problematic aspect of American culture: the fact that we as a people tend to be proud of our own ignorance.

     As though the intellectual culture that Markson so obviously reveres is something arcane and trivial, as though it should be mocked and/or depreciated and/or disregarded and/or disapproved of and/or openly battled against.

     When asked in an interview about his mentioning of George W. Bush and Rush Limbaugh in his last novel, The Last Novel, Markson replied:
     “I hesitated about that; I usually don’t do it. My attitude is that everybody should know even the most obscure painter or composer. But fucking George W. Bush? A hundred years from now? Who will know him any more than they know Chester Alan Arthur? Well, no, it’s different, because he may end the world. But I think I released some braces with this book when I let myself mention those few people.”
     From the Conjunctions Interview.