From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 17 Jan 2003

Finished this one a few days ago. Mark knew it was the one with all the literary references in it. Those I mentioned were in the first few pages. He goes on to mention another half dozen or so in the rest of the book.

I thought the plot was sorta mediocre, but Markson did a good job with the characters and it kept my interest throughout. He's good with his prose, too. A while ago Mario had mentioned the two schools of hardboiled writing, with Twain/Hammett/Hemingway on one side of the fence belting it out sharp and clean, and Chandler on the other with soulful melody swimming in a sea of similes (shoot me). Mario's advice to writer-hopefuls was to stick with THH, simply because it's easier to write and has a potentially longer shelf life.

Ever since Mario pointed that out, I've been more aware of the simile/metaphor count in what I read. Markson isn't shy about belting them out, and I think he carries it off well. On two pages I count four:

"The street was as hushed as a sickroom."

"The car didn't make any more noise than four flatulent drunks in a YMCA shower."

"So we sat there stuck together like two halves of a boiled potato with the water burned out of the pot."

"It was a self-service job, silent as an anaconda slithering down a cypress, and it got there a lot more quickly than I wanted it to."

Dick and Mario were familiar with the "difficult" Gaddis book that Markson mentions. From a little web-surfing, I gather that Markson finally graduated out of writing "entertainments" and pounded out a couple of his own "difficult" novels. I notice that if the reviews for his more esoteric books mention his earlier hardboiled ones at all, it's in a forgiving voice of understanding.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Jan 2003 EST