BOB, or MAN on BOAT by Peter Markus


one thing about lists, as sorrentino and warhol and now markus have taught us, is that they need never end (or begin), that they point endlessly.

we trust an incantation—that repetitive chanting—in part because of its self-impoverished language. thus markus’ song, in this moving, incantatory novel, is not maximal or prolific; he gets away with only talking about fish and mud and brothers and fathers and sons because he talks only of them, doesn’t talk about them for long (though he projects length), and talks only about them in an unadorned (thus almost religious) way. not that this is his only or always method, but the care and focus of the output imbues the work with an unerring integrity.

plus the careful rhythm, perfect as a heartbeat:
“Bob is sitting on his boat.
Bob’s baits are not in the river’s water.
Bob is, at the moment, just sitting there staring out across the river at what I do not know.
Maybe this is Bob thinking.
What is Bob thinking about?
His fish.
What if Bob never finds the fish that he is fishing for?
Is this what Bob is thinking?” (p.69)

“Been fishing.
Gone fishing.
Going fishing.
Be back when.
Be back whenever.
Be like Bob.
Go fish.
Fish after dark.
Fish in the dark.
Fish through the dark.
Be alive.
Be like Bob.
Be a fish.
Fish on.
Live fish.
Live to fish.
Bob lives.
In a boat.
On a river.
A man.
A fish.
Bob” (p. 115).

a book, in case it wasn’t clear, about men who fish.

buy directly from dzanc books or find at your local library.

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