Books 6/3/05

I know I said I was going to be reading Misfortune by Wesley Stace next, but I forgot that I was actually in the middle of reading Ibid by Mark Dunn. The fact that I forgot that I was reading it shouldn’t be interpreted as a slight against the book, but rather a gauge of my distracted state of mind, because it really is a fun book.

I didn’t notice when I bought the book that it was by Mark Dunn, the author of the awesome Ella Minnow Pea that so freaked me out when I read it last year, but as soon as I noticed that I knew I was in for a treat. The premise of this intriguing little book is that Mark Dunn (a character in his own novel) wrote a book about Jonathan Blashette, a three legged deoderant magnate (previously a circus performer). The only copy of the manuscript is accidentally destroyed, leaving only the footnotes, which were completed seperately from the manuscript and therefore weren’t lost. Since something has to be published, and Dunn doesn’t feel up to reproducing the whole biography again, they decide to just print the footnotes.

What results is a fragmented look at a man’s life, told through the pieces that wouldn’t be deemed important enough to include in the main text of a biography. It’s a fascinating experiment, and one that allows Dunn to jump around in his storytelling, leaving off accounts when the details might get too cumbersome. It’s reminiscent of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life in ways, and was laugh out loud funny in parts.

Dunn says that his intent was to show people how interesting history can be, and that comment puzzles me, as I don’t really see how his book necessarily accomplished that; I think the book illustrated more clearly how we decide that some details of people’s lives are less interesting than others, when perhaps they might be the most important of all. But of course, I didn’t see the destroyed manuscript, so I could be wrong. Whatever the intended or percieved point, the book was a fun read, and a successful attempt at an innovative storytelling technique.

Now I’m really going to read Misfortune.

Current total: 37
Just Finished: Ibid by Mark Dunn
Next Up: Misfortune by Wesley Stace

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