Sunday, July 08, 2007

Editorial Comment (by a devout Marksonist)

The New York Times Book Review today published a very thoughtful review of David Markson's newest book, The Last Novel. Reviewer Catherine Textier calls it "a real tour de force," and instead of bashing Markson or taking him to task for his innovative style, she instead celebrates it.

Reading this article on my front porch this morning, I got to thinking: in light of the recent newspaper trend of axing book review sections, this particular article is a prime example of why we desperately need to have more book reviews, not less.

Introducing people to, and getting people interested and excited about the work of David Markson: one of the most important living writers of our time, who Publishers Weekly called "The Best Novelist You've Never Read" is important not only for the overall betterment of our society, but also for the cause of advancing creativity amongst those of us who construct prose.

Enough celebration has been given to the Philip Roths and John Updikes of the world, which has in turn led to the creation of a disgusting abundance of similarly-minded prose. (Could this brand of monotony be one reason why I have dozens of students every quarter who complain about the boringness of reading?)

You see, we need book reviews to get the word out about work that typically gets trampled by the literary elephants, so that more fiction writers might begin to question the tedious paint-by-number style, which would translate into more interesting work being created and more interesting work would lead to more readers interested in reading interesting work.

Ultimately, more people reading Markson means more people thinking about challenging convention. Perhaps this may even trickle down to those institutions who grant degrees in creative writing, so that they might actually begin to promote "creative" writing instead of "conventional" writing.

At any rate, I encourage everyone to buy The Last Novel, read it twice, pass it on to a family member, and then start spreading the news.

Other reviews of Markson's The Last Novel can be found at The Quarterly Conversation, and Bookslut.