"Markson is regarded as an inventive literary stylist in the manner of James Joyce, William Gaddis, and Malcolm Lowry . . . and many critics have commented that his compressed, highly allusive fiction verges on poetry." In view of such a judgment (from Contemporary Literary Criticism), it should surely come as less than a surprise that Markson has indeed written poems through much of his career, the best of which are gathered here for the first time. "Some are only playful," he indicates in a casually self-deprecating foreword, while certain others "are lyrics of a type generally deemed antiquated." Nonetheless, both these and his more ambitious efforts bear witness to Markson's lifelong creative absorption with such subjects as literature, art, music, the creative process, love and its loss, death, male-female relationshipsnot to mention drink, sex, even certain cherished aspects of the female anatomy. And, any "surprise" here, then, is finally perhaps only at Markson's stunning poetic variants on those extraordinary qualities that vitalize his prose.