Tuesday, September 16, 2008


... The Best American Novelist You've Never Heard Of.


  1. I vaguely recall the road scholar's name (and the title of one his works, Rock Island Line, primarily because great titles are a love of mine); but, his reputation's sky-ricocheted since then, I guess.

    Still, he may be the greatest American novelist unknown to all; but, I know who wrote the greatest American novel unknown to everyone else (except mebbe Sarah Weinman). Do you?

    Hint: Someone we know and love (who shares the guy's first name) will find him Mark(son)ing time on Monsters & Critics in an appreciation by a bloggadocia very near you . . . which will lead him to the source of my not-so-delusionary grandiosity. You'll see; trust me.

  2. Sorry I asked :(. Mea maxima culpable. Shock, Inq.! Next time, I'll be sure to do my own dirty work :). The answer (and, it's only fair I provide it)? David Markson's pair of novels, as the following excerpt explains:

    The self-protective author's been called a cult genius, a man-in-a-million, a right royal iconoclastic rebel without applause. Until earlier this year, that is. Why? He finally earned the long-overdue American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for "outstanding achievement in literature." Next thing he knows? New York magazine bestows a rather dubious distinction upon the octogenarianish hard-scrabbling povert. [David Markson] finds the gesture "amusing and gratifying": "Sixty-one critics and each one of them picks a different book and I have two critics who pick a different one of my books," he confided to Publishers Weekly. Each critic chose a different novel. Of the seven he's shared with the world, did either critic consider, say, Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988) "the best novel never read?"

    Or, perhaps, 1977's
    Springer's Progress, Reader's Block (1996), or This Is Not a Novel (2001)? All qualify; but, nope. The pair of winners? Vanishing Point (2004) and The Last Novel, just released, immediately accepted by Shoemaker & Hoard (whereas Wittgenstein's Mistress was rejected 54 times before the Dalkey Archive scooped up a masterpiece many considered much too "experimental," "difficult," "erudite" or, probably most tragically disheartening, "not a novel at all").