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Reader's Block Paperback – Dec 23 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (Dec 23 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564781321
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564781321
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #295,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 14 1996
Format: Paperback
If you read one book this year, read David Markson's new
novel. Whether or not you've read any of his previous
novels--which, by the way, represent one of the finest
and most innovative bodies of work of the last thirty
years--Reader's Block will astound you. A beautifully
crafted condensation of language, Reader's Block is the
poetic novel for century's end, recalling those great
Modernist novels at century's beginning. Concerning
the struggles of a writer named Reader, who tries to
write about a character named Protagonist, Reader's
Block is Markson's most refined example of his
telescopic and allusive style. The reader enjoys an
indelible language, told in terse, paratactic
sentences, and it is my opinion that Markson has
always written an absolutely tactile prose. I felt
each word with my fingers. I found myself eating
this novel. The book is also downright fun--for
it is a collage of anecdotes from literary and
art history, anecdotes that reveal the struggles
of ALL writers and artists. This business of art
is not a casual affair. Reader's Block is one of
the purest books ever written, not a novel to
taste but to ingest. We owe Markson everything,
for he is more than gifted and we, struggling
readers, are more than blessed.
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Format: Paperback
Markson discards the narrative form and focuses on what's interesting, the tidbits and anecdotes. The message of the novel is what he focuses on, the deaths, the misfortunes, the tabloid-like stories of the literary and philosophical giants. While throughly readable and engaging, I didn't find this work to be revealing or insightful in the way would stand up to some of their great ones. Perhaps I'm missing his allusions, but the insight of an anecdote is in its application, and in the stripped form of this novel many of those allusions read as if from a book of quotations.
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Format: Paperback
"Reader's Block" somehow manages to pick up where "This Is Not a Novel" left off, even though the latter was written later. This is managed by TINaN being more polished, more reader-ready, more "practiced," and is thus a good introduction to the genre; but Reader's Block is more true to the genre by being less "produced" and therefore more "honest." And yet, if you go back even further to "Wittgenstein's Mistress," the genre is exploited in the form of actual fiction-- biographical fiction, to be sure, but fiction nevertheless-- so that if one needs fiction as an introduction to the genre, one has it available, and again, Reader's Block will pick up where W'sM leaves off.
I can't speak to still earlier works by Markson, but I can say the "adventurous reader," the literary equivalent of the day-walker who sets out in strange cities with nothing more than a bottle of water and power-bar, will enjoy the adventure of discovering this genre. "This Is Not a Novel" is the packaged tour; "Reader's Block" is the nitty gritty.
Oh, by the way, the genre is called "zuihitsu." It's Japanese.
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Format: Paperback
This book only got three stars primarily because I had already read Wittgenstein's Mistress, and had seen the emotional response that Markson's style could produce, a response that he doesn't really bring off here. The style still has a certain hypnotic momemtum, and most literate readers will have no desire to put the book down (mostly for the high level of interest one has in the anecdotes), but it lacks the sense of character that the previous book had. Although he tries to create the same sense of loneliness that Kate had in W.M., the lack of a consistent narrative voice never allows us to get any sense of Protagonist or Reader as people, which is perhaps the point but doesn't really allow us to have any emotional ties with them - so the ending is much less affecting than it could have been.
And while W.M. dealt deftly with complicated philosophical issues, the issues Markson deals with here - mortality, bigotry, etc. - seemed to be handled a little heavy-handedly.
Sentences like:
He's completely alone here now.
And passages like:
Four of Freud's five sisters were incinerated by the Germans in 1944.
Four.
struck me a little overblown and pretentious, while the allusions and references to isolation in W.M. never did.
So: the book is certainly a worthwhile read, but I would read Wittgenstein's Mistress first. Probably the high point of experimental fiction in our time.
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