A companion book, so to speak, of Markson’s Epitaph for a Tramp, which I talked about here. This was before he was writing his experimental fiction, which I did try to read, but have no patience for literary works which have no discernible story line. I’m old school. OK, OK, I’m old.
In this one, Harry Fannin, tough guy private eye, keeps stumbling upon dead bodies, and gets beaten up pretty regularly for it. The setting is Greenwich Village in the 1960s and Markson has fun showing off his familiarity with the authors and celebrities in vogue with the beat generation; he mocks them mercilessly through Harry’s acerbic wit. There is a lot more wordplay in this one than in Tramp. Even the space between Dead and Beat in the title is intentional, since most of the victims were beatniks, not deadbeats. Want a taste of some of the writing? Of course you do.
Most of the furnishings have been out of style since Lucky Strikes were green.
Lolita, a sad story about a twelve-year-old girl who couldn’t find anyone her own age to play with.
The building wasn’t quite yet a tenement, although they were already getting interesting effects from the lobby. It was part tile, part chewing gum.
He had a face which had already seen everything twice, and had been bored the first time.
See what I mean? A really fun read, despite the dead bodies. Actually, I felt the plot only existed as a vehicle for Markson’s word play.