RARA-AVIS: David Markson

From: Mark Sullivan ( DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net)
Date: 23 Dec 2002

I just finished my second Harry Fannin book by David Markson, Epitaph for a Dead Beat. I liked it just as much as the first, Epitaph for a Tramp. I can see why Bill C was reminded of Ross Macdonald by these books (Markson even gives a shout out to RM by mentioning in passing that a bartender was reading a book called The Way Some People Die). Like Macdonald, the writing is very literate (both books have numerous literary allusions), with a sense of gloom hanging over it all. And childhood and family trauma figure heavily in the first. However, Markson leavens it all with Chandleresque wisecracks.

The second book features a somewhat demented sense of humor. It is set amidst the Greenwich Village beat scene, circa 1960. Fannin is a clear outsider, but Markson knows his stuff. He throws out hilarious overheard dialog snippets, references to beat writers, even small excerpts of writings. Fannin internalizes all of it to such a degree that he begins to ramble in a like stream-of-consciousness flow for almost a third of the book, while sleep deprived and suffering from a concussion, which, being a hardboiled PI, he treats with booze. The whodunnit of the two books, and the way Fannin discovers it, are very similar, but Markson manages to put an interesting new spin on the same trick in the second. I highly recommend these books.

I see Markson wrote a third mystery before going all literary on our asses. Has anyone read Miss Doll, Go Home. Does it feature Fannin? Is it good? What about his literary works, are they also good?


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