Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bob, or Man on Boat

I know I am very, very late to the party, but over the holidays I read Bob, or Man on Boat by Peter Markus.  It is an incredible achievement, such a unique and memorable book.  I showed my wife the first page of the novel, which begins, "In a boat, on a river, lived a man.  Bob.  Bob fished.  It's what Bob did.  All of the time.  Fish.  And fish," and she said, "How's this book going to treat you?"  I wasn't sure how it was going to treat me, but I was interested to find out.

The rhythm of the book is hypnotic and I don't mean that in some silly, overused manner.  I mean that this book genuinely made me feel like I was falling under some kind of mind-altering spell.  It was such a bizarre and not unwelcome feeling to read a book and feel so strangely moved by it.  The book is made up almost entirely of words with one or two syllables and so when I'd come across a word like "fisherpeople," it was briefly disorienting in a way that made me think about language so much more than I do with other books.  And, there is a genuine narrative (not that it's necessary) that was emotionally resonant to a degree that far outstrips the less-than-150 pages of the book.

Bob, or Man on Boat was published by Dzanc Books, which consistently puts out amazing work.  I am very much on the lookout for two of their offerings, Elephants in Our Bedroom by Michael Czyzniejewski and What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg, in 2009.


peter said...


Never too late to get on the boat.


Shane Jones said...

one of my favorite books of 2008.