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)
BUY IT NOW!
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.

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)

BUY IT NOW!

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.

     The first page / title page of David Markson’s copy of Satan in a Barrel and Other Early Stories by Malcolm Lowry:
     On which the editor of the collection, Sherrill E. Grace, presumably wrote Markson the inscription:     “For David     With love—          Sherrill          31/03/99.”
—
     Sherrill E. Grace, in addition to her great work on Malcolm Lowry and Margaret Atwood, actually wrote a short piece on Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress titled “Messages: Reading Wittgenstein’s Mistress.”
     Some excerpts from that piece will follow…
     “‘In the beginning,’ that is, on my first reading of David Markson’s fourth novel, I knew I was missing many of the messages. They were there before me all right—in the street, in the sand, on the page, and I thought I knew the language (both the signs and the game)—but I had little idea what they meant.”
     “Wittgenstein’s Mistress was a beautiful, an important book, a book that meant to mean (a book about meaning and the importance of making meaning) and, thus, a book to reward richly my subsequent readings.”
     “Kate’s mind is a storehouse of Wittgensteinian facts that she has some difficulty sorting into chronological or biographical categories.”
     “Choose almost any passage of Wittgenstein’s Mistress at random and you will discover that it operates through repetition: repetition of words, hence of syllables, sounds and stresses, repetition of phrases, grammatical constructions (or misconstructions), repetition of names, facts, descriptions, quotations, and, of course, repetition of events such as writing those messages, visiting Simon’s grave, going to Hisarlik, burning books page by page, leaving food for a cat in the Colosseum, bouncing tennis balls down…Small wonder Kate’s favorite composer is Bach; her monologue could be called the Wittgenstein Variations.”
     “After my first reading, I felt (as I suggested above) that in creating Kate, Markson had out-Mollied Joyce because his woman was so much more complex.”
     “My third reading of Wittgenstein’s Mistress only confirmed my belief that the entire text was somehow contained, adumbrated in its first sentence: ‘In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.’”
     “The mystery story she gives us is, I would suggest, the very grail she is looking for: Dasein.”
     “Kate’s readers must be prepared to become her co-creators and co-curators.”
     “Markson’s Kate is waiting, still, time out of mind, for me to start reading again.”

     The first page / title page of David Markson’s copy of Satan in a Barrel and Other Early Stories by Malcolm Lowry:

     On which the editor of the collection, Sherrill E. Grace, presumably wrote Markson the inscription:
     “For David
     With love—
          Sherrill
          31/03/99.”

     Sherrill E. Grace, in addition to her great work on Malcolm Lowry and Margaret Atwood, actually wrote a short piece on Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress titled “Messages: Reading Wittgenstein’s Mistress.”

     Some excerpts from that piece will follow…

     “‘In the beginning,’ that is, on my first reading of David Markson’s fourth novel, I knew I was missing many of the messages. They were there before me all right—in the street, in the sand, on the page, and I thought I knew the language (both the signs and the game)—but I had little idea what they meant.”

     “Wittgenstein’s Mistress was a beautiful, an important book, a book that meant to mean (a book about meaning and the importance of making meaning) and, thus, a book to reward richly my subsequent readings.”

     “Kate’s mind is a storehouse of Wittgensteinian facts that she has some difficulty sorting into chronological or biographical categories.”

     “Choose almost any passage of Wittgenstein’s Mistress at random and you will discover that it operates through repetition: repetition of words, hence of syllables, sounds and stresses, repetition of phrases, grammatical constructions (or misconstructions), repetition of names, facts, descriptions, quotations, and, of course, repetition of events such as writing those messages, visiting Simon’s grave, going to Hisarlik, burning books page by page, leaving food for a cat in the Colosseum, bouncing tennis balls down…Small wonder Kate’s favorite composer is Bach; her monologue could be called the Wittgenstein Variations.”

     “After my first reading, I felt (as I suggested above) that in creating Kate, Markson had out-Mollied Joyce because his woman was so much more complex.”

     “My third reading of Wittgenstein’s Mistress only confirmed my belief that the entire text was somehow contained, adumbrated in its first sentence: ‘In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.’”

     “The mystery story she gives us is, I would suggest, the very grail she is looking for: Dasein.”

     “Kate’s readers must be prepared to become her co-creators and co-curators.”

     “Markson’s Kate is waiting, still, time out of mind, for me to start reading again.”