Review Details

Wittgenstein's Mistress

Wittgenstein's Mistress

Product Review (submitted on January 6, 2012):
I'm just getting into Markson, one of those authors who has a dedicated cult following, but remains a marginalized figure within the literary community. Apparently he started out writing pulp novels and a screenplay or two back in the 50s and 60s, and then popped back up with this abstract experimental "novel" -- and hasn't looked back since. This one's basically a collection of musings by a woman who either is the last person alive on Earth, or just believes that she is. She talks a little about the primitive post-apocalyptic life she's carved out for herself -- at times claiming to live in the middle of nowhere, and at other times in some of the more famous museums of the world -- but mostly she discusses the tragic lives and foibles of artists, musicians, and authors from antiquity to the present. Interesting patterns begin to emerge, as she's clearly fascinated with personalities who either won little respect in their lifetime, or had great success in the arts but horrible problems in their personal lives. At first glance, it looks like it'd be hard to digest -- but for me, at least, it went down smooth. My only complaint was that having read some of Markson's subsequent novels which featured male protagonists, the narrator's voice here struck me as too similar (a few references to childbirth and menstrual cycles aside). Otherwise, fascinating.