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“this is not a detached dissertation but an exploration of my origins, an indirect attempt at self-definition” —Octavio Paz

Shapely Religion: On Maso and Markson

Is there a common concern in David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress and Carole Maso’s AVA that goes beyond the superficial? Each is a long series of short fragments, only occasionally more than one sentence long. The relationship of each fragment to those surrounding it is constantly made ambiguous, leaning sometimes towards clearly ironic disjunction, other times towards hesitant continuity, such that, while reading, you are continually kept on your toes.  There is a downside of having to stay on ones toes all the time, though: the format swings between addictively compelling and unendurably frustrating. Markson starts with a curiousity-sparking mystery written in a language that dissects itself one razor-thin layer at a time, and Maso’s sentences are hypnotically pleasing to read as the images and phrases snowball into scenes and characters, but by the end of both books, I had been ready for them to be over for at least a few dozen pages.  Even so, I found them both interesting and, well… thought-provoking, as you may see if you continue reading.  That’s the short version.

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Filed under: Markson, Maso

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