In a 2007 issue of Web Conjunctions, Tayt Harlin conducted an interview with David Markson in which they discussed Markson’s early crime novels, his fifty-four rejections for Wittgenstein’s Mistress, and Frank Sinatra in The Ballad of Dingus Magee (“the worst movie you ever saw”). The interview evokes that sepia-toned New York City we all some days long for, even if we pretend not to: jazz players living next door; chance encounters with Dylan Thomas; cold-water flats (whatever those are). Markson comes across as likable and funny, and that brings me to the poems.
Markson died this weekend. He will and should be remembered as a novelist, but he also wrote some amusing light verse, my favorite of which is “See Sontag Read” in which he spells out the mathematical impossibility that Susan Sontag read all the books she claimed to have read. Of course, I also enjoy “Daily Reviewer-Haupt;” in this four-line gem, writers are lovers, and critics are masturbators.
Yes, yes, by all means start with Wittgenstein’s Mistress, but also feel free to pick up the Collected Poems, a trim 96-page volume that includes mini-essays on Conrad Aiken and Dylan Thomas.
Bio: Erica Wright is the poetry editor at Guernica. Her “interview with John Ashbery”:http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/507/houses_at_night_1/, “Houses at Night,” appeared in Guernica’s February 2008 issue. Read her last recommendation of the book The Anthologist “here”:http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1662/rec_room_erica_wright_the_anth/.