Peter Markus

Books Reviews Peter Markus
Peter Markus

A deceptively simple fish tale

Peter Markus is obsessed with a few words: brother, river, mud, lighthouse, fish, moon and star. From this sacred vocabulary springs a body of work—three books of stories and now a novel—that is sometimes confounding, often beautiful, starkly spare and totally unique. Bob, or Man on Boat is an authentically avant-garde work, refreshingly absent of any trace of pretension or irony. It is pure incantation and fable: prayer by any other name.

The story: A man named Bob sits on a boat, fishing. Another man, Bob’s son Bob, watches him and fishes, too. That’s about all that happens.

Like Gertrude Stein, Markus uses an elementary lexicon and recursive prose to make the mundane strange. “Look at Bob’s hands. His knuckles are rivers. The skin on Bob’s hands, fish scale covered, they look like they’ve been dipped in stars.”

Markus’ work is not for everyone, and Bob is a book to truly love or hate. Count me among the lovers.

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