Fare Forward: Letters from David Markson is out today from powerHouse. Pick up a copy if you have any interest in the best writer of the last 50 years. (Bonus: This blog and myself are both mentioned on pg. 77)
Also, be on the lookout for my interview with poet Laura Sims (the one to whom all the letters in this book were written). It should be going up on Full Stop sometime soon.
For now, here’s a mini excerpt from our interview:
One thing I always wanted to chat with another Markson-obsessed person about was what to call those final novels when grouped together? On Reading Markson Reading, I’ve been calling them The Notecard Quartet, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on whether they should even be grouped together and, if so, what they should be called?
That’s a really nice name for them, I like that. The Notecard Quartet. And yes, I really do think they belong together. It’s undeniable that their shared form and concerns connect them—they’re like one big book he was working out over time. I always think of them as a “tetralogy,” but I like your name for them much better.
The words “Fare Forward” are from a T. S. Eliot line which Markson quoted as a kind of “bon voyage” to you when you moved from New York to Wisconsin. Can you tell me why and how that title was chosen?
Originally I came up with five possible titles:
Don’t Leave Flowers, Telephone: Letters from David Markson
I’ll Tell You the Truth: Letters from David Markson
The Sound of My Own Voice: Letters from David Markson
I Almost Prefer the Silence: Letters from David Markson
Fare Forward, Voyagers: Letters from David Markson
Wes (of powerHouse) made the very good point that we didn’t want to choose a title that, like the first four on the list, emphasized Markson as a hermetically sealed literary figure. If the book were to introduce new readers to his work, as we hoped it would, we would have to choose something more open-ended and optimistic. We both liked the last one for that reason, and then Wes thought it would be better without the “Voyagers.” I think he was right.
I like that the title is positive, forward-looking, and optimistic in a way, because I think that there’s actually an optimism in his writing that is often buried, but is sort of always there, a strange optimism that I can’t quite describe.
It is. It’s what keeps the books from being completely bleak and depressing. They’re really not. I know that some people find them so, but I don’t think of them that way. There is a thread of hope running through them that keeps them buoyant, joyful even.