The first page of David Markson’s copy of Michelangelo by Ludwig Goldscheider:
On which Markson wrote as an inscription:
As any reader of Markson’s late novels knows, they are filled with what he told Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s Bookworm were “incidental odds and ends, intellectual snippets—whatever you might call them—about literary people, about artists, about composers, about even sometimes sports figures.”
And Markson always threw in these little “incidental odds and ends,” even in his early books, even though they have more of a narrative.
Going all the way back to his early detective novels you can already see his interests and obsessions with intellectual trivia forming.
Though all Markson’s books are filled with these little bits of information, he rarely repeated the same tidbit twice.
Also in the Silverblatt interview, Markson said:
“I try not to repeat anecdotes.”
And when further talking with Silverblatt about why he doesn’t put the same anecdotes in different books:
“I don’t want people to be stumbling over the same story.”
True, a handful reoccur in a couple books, but for the most part, each little nugget is entirely unique in every new book.
One of the few tidbits used more than twice though is one about Michelangelo—specifically about him never taking off his boots, even to bed.
Some iteration of this information appears in four of Markson’s books (only one of these appearances is in his final tetralogy The Notecard Quartet though).
The first mention of this story of Michelangelo and his boots is all the way back in Markson’s 1970 novel Going Down.
On pg. 187:
“And yet all I remember half the time are things like Michelangelo wearing his boots to bed.”
This factoid is mentioned again on pg. 7 of Markson’s next novel Springer’s Progress:
“Dana get authentically grieved at him, find himself pondering that Michelangelo wore his boots to bed.”
And on pg. 185 of Wittgenstein’s Mistress:
“Have I ever mentioned that Michelangelo practically never took a bath in his life, by the way?
And even wore his boots to bed?
On my honor, it is a well known item in the history of art that Michelangelo was not somebody one would particularly wish to sit too close to.
Which on second thought could very well change one’s view as to why all of those Medici kept telling him don’t bother to get up, as a matter of fact.”
Lastly, in The Notecard Quartet, on pg. 23 of Vanishing Point, Michelangelo and his boots reappear:
“At certain seasons he kept those boots on for such a length of time that when he drew them off, the skin came away altogether with the leather.
Said Ascanio Condivi, a friend of Michelangelo’s.”