Mark Dunn returns for his third novel with MacAdam/Cage with Ibid, a novel written entirely in footnotes. "Being one of those rare birds who actually reads footnotes," comments Dunn, "I often find myself rewarded by my time spent in the margins. Many authors give themselves wonderful license in their footnotes to let their guard down, even get a ...Read MoreMark Dunn returns for his third novel with MacAdam/Cage with Ibid, a novel written entirely in footnotes. "Being one of those rare birds who actually reads footnotes," comments Dunn, "I often find myself rewarded by my time spent in the margins. 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. Ibid tells the fictional story of Jonathan Blashette, great American entrepreneur and humanitarian, illuminating his life, 1888-1962, offering, along the way, glimpses into the lives of many of those who populated his expansive world. A comedic Typhoid Mary, Jonathan's life makes us both wince and laugh at those misplaced intentioned and the ideals of a century that perhaps took itself just a little too seriously. Dunn holds up a funhouse mirror at the pedestaled residents of the age and asks why so many of the more famous ones did so many stupid things and rarely got called for them.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2004-02-23 Chalk it up to a post-ironic age or a growing impatience with a certain precious experimentalism linked (possibly unfairly but permanently) to the McSweeney's crowd. The bloom is off the rose on certain types of literary exercise, in this case a novel composed entirely of footnotes to a lost biography of the fictitious Jonathan Blashette, a three-legged circus performer and later CEO of Dandy-de-odor-o Inc., a men's deodorant company. Reading Dunn's third novel is rather like being served a dinner consisting entirely of turkey necks: you're starving for the whole bird-in this instance, the biography manuscript, supposedly lost in a soapy bath by Dunn's editor. The footnotes cover a life brimming with historical significance; not only does Blashette serve in WWI, he loses a stepson to WWII and rubs shoulders with, to name a handful, James Joyce, Greta Garbo, Nelson Rockefeller, Rudolph Valentino and Ray Kroc. While Dunn succeeds in affectionately and mischievously portraying history as a live, malleable and ever-developing construct enriched and expanded by its minor players, even the fictitious ones, his sometimes juvenile jokes-e.g. one of his "sources," a collection of letters to a urologist, is subtitled Notes to a Pee Pee Doctor-aren't very funny. And Dunn, like the class clown, can barely keep a straight face even when describing the casualties of war; he also kills off two important characters in freak accidents. The book reads as if Dunn had a brilliant time writing it, but readers may find the going tougher. (Mar.) Forecast: Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea made quite a big splash, but this latest effort is too tricky to enjoy such wide appeal. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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