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by Mark Dunn
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    Mark Dunn
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a novel in footnotes by. Mark Dunn. ebook ISBN: 978-1-59692-965-4.

a novel in footnotes by. Dunn, Mark, 1956 –. Ibid: a life, by Mark Dunn. p. cm. ISBN 1-931561-65-6 (hardcover : alk. paper).

I have just completed my latest book project, a biography of Jonathan Blashette, the child circus sideshow performer who later made his fortune in male deodorants before engaging in philanthropy and other high profile hobbies. Blashette, for all his accomplishments, is best remembered for having three legs. Please find the manuscript enclosed. I am in the process of completing the book’s extensive endnotes and will send these along shortly. If you choose to consider the manuscript for publication, I ask only one favor: please take care not to lose it, as it is my only copy.

Ibid: A Life is the third novel by Mark Dunn, published in 2004. Its form is highly reminiscent of Nabokov's Pale Fire in that it consists almost entirely of a set of endnotes for a larger (non-existent) biographical work. Its form is highly reminiscent of Nabokov's Pale Fire in that it consists almost entirely of a set of endnotes for a larger (non-existent) biographical work

I have been looking forward to reading Ibid: A Life by Mark Dunn

I have been looking forward to reading Ibid: A Life by Mark Dunn. I found Ibid hilarious, and really did laugh out loud several times.

IBID: A Life Epigraph Grover Bramblett, The Quotable Sanford and Son (New York: Ebony and Ebony Press, 1984), 215.

Mark Dunn READ BOOK: Ibid by Mark Dunn online free. You can read book Ibid by Mark Dunn in our library for absolutely free.

A life by inference is better than no life at al. Dunn pushes his propensity for quirky to the limit, creating a full-length novel entirely upon the margins of a fictitious biography of Jonathan Blashette, a three-legged circus performer-cum entrepreneur and humanitarian.

Condition: Used; Good.

Mark Dunn returns for his third novel with MacAdam/Cage with Ibid, a novel written entirely in footnotes. Many authors give themselves wonderful license in their footnotes to let their guard down, even get a little frisky and mischievous. And so the idea for Ibid was born. Dunn pushes this propensity to the limit, and has created a full-length hilarious novel entirely upon the margins of a fictitious text.


grew a little tedious as the story moved on
The service was terrific; the book in excellent condition. It got to me very quickly. Thanks.
It's a pretty brave idea -- a story told entirely through the footnotes of a destroyed novel.

Even a brilliant experimental author like Italo Calvino might have blanched at writing something like this, and Mark Dunn gives it a solid try. The result is a mixed bag -- a wonderfully colourful main character with epic experiences, but written in a densely rambling style.

The novel opens with an exchange of letters between Dunn and his editor. The editor tells Dunn that due to her three-year-old son, the only copy of his manuscript has been reduced to soggy pulp -- the only part left is the footnotes. The editor is willing to publish these, without the novel they belong to, and after a bit of dithering Dunn agrees.

The footnotes sketch out the story of Jonathan Blashette, a man born with three legs. Unsurprisingly his life is an interesting one: he becomes a circus frreak, falls in love many times (a pockmarked prostitute, a transvestite, and a girl whose "life is snuffed out in a tsunami of molasses," among others), goes to war, becomes a deodorant king, and encounters countless important personages -- celebrities, inventors, politicians, and more.

"Ibid" sounds like an impossible way to write a book, let alone a fictional memoir. Come on, who can tell a story through footnotes, which by definition are dependent on the main text? Which in this case, was destroyed in a bathtub by a three-year-old?

But Dunn actually does a pretty decent job bringing Blashette's story to life, through a series of notes for the text we never see. These footnotes are detailed and kind of kooky (Greta Garbo announcing, "I vant to be alone... with this big plate of sliced beets. Bring me some tripe!"), and touch on major world events like the invention of the jigsaw puzzle.

Unfortunately, "Ibid" keeps getting tangled in its own oddball narrative. It starts off well through the weird letters ("I know you never use the phone, fearing electrical shock") and Blashette's boyhood, but then Dunn seems to realize that this is going to be a very short book, and some of the footnotes become so extensive and rambling that the story gets lost.

That's too bad, because Blashette's story is so fascinating that you wish the manuscript hadn't been wrecked. Blashette is a likably strange guy with a compassionate streak, who runs into all sorts of weird people over the course of his life -- including some who were real, as a racist (fictional) letter from Frank L. Baum displays.

"Ibid: A Novel" is a strange, ambitious novel that trips over its own feet (all three of them). It has some definite flaws, but is still a pleasantly kooky read.
It's difficult to find a comic novel that can make me laugh out loud. Even so in period. Mark Dunn's book of footnotes (the author includes letters to and from his editor explaining what happens to the manuscript) is as funny and meticulously crafted as "Ella Minnow Pea". Like good actors transforming a clichéd rom-com into something special, Mark Dunn takes a specific literary device and transforms what could be a gimmick into a great book. Anyone sitting next to me was annoyed by how much I kept laughing out loud. I lovde the attention to detail, and how the jokes seemed of the period, and not anachronistic. Any books of footnotes has to be compared to "Infinite Jest", and so, I was hoping that the footnotes would have been at least as epic as those, since they comprised the whole "novel". Still, I was brought back to the times when I first discovered other humorists, and I am glad Mark Dunn is now among them. I think I would have given it five stars if there were more structure. Yes, it's a book of footnotes, but, I think it still could have given you a better sense of the missing book, in order to make it masterful.
I adored Ella Minnow Pea. It was witty, well-paced, inventive, funny and endearing. It is rare that a comic novel packs such a serious message.

Ibid., the story of three-legged Jonathan Bleshette, carried solely through "endnotes" because the manuscript was lost in a bathtub, is another self-conscious attempt by Dunn to reinvent the novel. I would like to think that he succeeded, and indeed about 20 pages into the book I thought he'd succeeded admirably.

Unfortunately, as the book goes on, it seems more and more like a one-note piano. Bleshette is, again quite consciously, like Zelig (or the uncredited Forrest Gump); he meets numerous famous people in his life, often in unusual ways. There is a constant theme of the women in his life meeting their end in Boston, until his great love, the prostitute Great Jane, breaks the "Boston curse". But so what. Despite his ability as a novelist to invent any source he wants, from transcripts of conversations to the notes Bleshette and the future Rudolph Valentino scribbled for stage names for the latter and a deodorant brand for the former, Dunn fails to make either Bleshette or the other characters come alive. The last two-thirds of the novel are rather boring, and little comes of the possibilities that the first bits promised.

Great Jane, for instance, seems at first to have possibilities, and although she ends up as Lady Jane, and tries to save prostitutes from that life, we never get to know her much, or see her plying her trade. The various hangers-on at the deodorant factory have fewer possibilities (the running joke of "she's the one" "no, she's not" is okay but gets tiresome) and Jonathan's relatives seem to come and go without much purpose, the only exception being his father who comes to learn Yiddish after spending his whole life in Arkansas before Jonathan moved him to New York.

But the real problem is the possibilities for Jonathan himself that are not explored in sufficient detail. You'd think a man with three legs would have a set of interesting encounters with tailors; nope. Jonathan goes to war; how were his uniforms made? Can he use three legs as a tripod and hold a machine gun better? No idea. Are there rules to sports that can be gotten around if you have three legs (e.g., catching a football in-bounds)? A possibility not exploited.

The endnote thing is similarly unexploited. If you read endnotes (and I do) one thing you notice is a lot of vituperativeness toward prior biographers. Dunn creates the prior biography ("Three Legs, One Heart") but doesn't take it far enough. Give us a diatribe, Mark, something totally outlandish. Pick on the guy's commas or something, or a perpetual misspelling with endless "sic's".

I'm glad we have authors like Dunn who experiment with the novel; this one just didn't work. At the end he notes his admiration for Woody Allen, and one wonders if he's a fan of the later, unfunny films. This book is a lot like them. A great premise with too few jokes and not enough character.