I ordered myself a copy of this again, because I have a thing where I impress books upon people -- often late at a party, when the confetti has ground in and the eyes water with fatigue and drunk -- and then I never see them again. Or, that's not precisely true. Sometimes they come back years later, with an apology: I can't stand this. Or a perplexity: why me? Best case, my weaving self did right. My copy of this has been off in other hands so long that I decided it wasn't my copy anymore. We'll see if they pair.
This new copy has an afterword by the venerable DFW (which seems fitting for structural reasons). About 5 pages in, I began getting angry: my god, this is so freaking good, so brilliant and fey and weird, that I wanted to tear out all the pages and roll around in them. Which is perfect, you see, because that's my response to Markson as well. Old that I am, I even started a tumblr of Wittgenstein's, whenever it was I read it first, because it seemed to presage the loneliness of social media, the ghosts of personalities telling anecdotes Into the void.
The coolest thing DFW's afterword did for me was position this is a tradition of philosophical fiction, writers acting out their philosophies or critiques of philosophies with all these character words. I know shit from philosophy. I am impatient with it, and I do not mean this as some sort of humblebrag where I am too Zen present to engage with all that brain chess. As someone more headbound than is often wise, I see its merit, but I just don't bend that way. DFW knows his shit, though, and I was able to appreciate some otherwise inaccessible complexities.
Which, fuck yeah Markson.
Someone is living on this beach.