Finding them requires some digging, however, as they’re “scattered among the stacks.” The LRB‘s Alex Abramovich was inspired to start searching after a friend’s bought Markson’s copy of White Noise. When Abramovich paid a visit to the Strand, he came home with $262.81 worth of Markson’s books, including “Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood($7.50), Yeats’s Essays and Introductions ($15), Leslie Fiedler’s Life and Death in the American Novel ($10), Tristram Shandy ($5).”
“Pound’s Cantos, Jan Kott’s Shakespeare Our Contemporary and Balzac’s Lost Illusions are all still in the stacks, at reasonable prices,” he writes.
Part of the fascination here is the chance to see an author’s private marginalia. In a Melville collection, “every one of Bartleby the Scrivener’s ‘I would prefer not to’s” is underlined, and Markson’s notations in the DeLillo include “oh god the pomposity, the bullshit!,” “oh i get it, it’s a sci-fi novel!” and “big deal.” Somehow this makes us feel better about the way the state of our English class paperbacks.