January 3, 2011

Marginalia Contest Winners


Thanks to everyone who took part in MobyLives‘s Marginalia Contest (inspired by Sam Anderson‘s “A Year in Maginalia” post at The Millions.) In an utterly subjective fashion, we’ve selected two of the entries as the “winners.” Both are quite different in nature, but speak to the idiosyncratic and personal interactions with the books we read.

Daniel Roberts emailed us: “I write in my books constantly. I took a look through the bks I’ve read in the past year and found some notes– critical, weird, stupid, etc.” Here are a few of his margin thoughts on Paul Auster‘s Sunset Park:

However Roberts becomes more intrigued as the text tilts towards the titillating. (How was this not nominated for the 2010 Bad Sex in Fiction Award prize?)

Our second “winner” is Tyler Malone, who purchased over 200 books of David Markson‘s personal library from The Strand bookstore after the author’s death last year. (Read more about the story of Markson’s lost and found library at The Boston Globe or Newsweek.) Malone has created a website called Reading Markson Reading, dedicated to exploring Markson’s literary marginalia, and also emailed MobyLives some of his personal favorites. Fans of Markson’s experimental and literature-saturated fiction know that his later books take the form of rarified marginalia and esoteric ephemera themselves, so it is a real pleasure to see (via Malone, via the library, via the marginalia) Markson’s own engagement with reading.

Here is one of the images Malone sent us, taken from David Markson’s copy of The Failure of Criticism by Henri Peyre. Here, Markson compares the many rejections of his surreal apocalyptic masterpiece Wittgenstein’s Mistress with other famously rejected works of literature:

And here, Markson comments on Romantic Affinities: Portraits from an Age: 1780-1830 by Rupert Christiansen:

To which Malone has added his own delightful commentary:

Though he obviously means endnotes/footnotes, ironically, the book does nowhave notes of some kind (namely: Markson’s notes in the margins).  Wouldn’t every book be better if instead of or in addition to endnotes/footnotes they had marksonnotes?

Both Malone and Roberts will be sent one of the following Melville House titles of their choosing: Vivian Cook‘s All In A Word, Mahendra Singh‘s illustrated version of Lewis Carroll‘s The Hunting of the SnarkTrevor Paglen‘s I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me, or a novella from our “Art of the Novella” series.We hope they inspire future notes, commentary, critical engagement, and marginalia of their own.