Ibid by Mark Dunn

Since Ella Minnow Pea is one of my favorite books of all time, it only makes sense that I would search out other books by its author, Mark Dunn. (I’m embarrassed to say how long it actually took me to look it up, though.)

When I did that, I found that Dunn has written several other books. So far, Ibid: A Novel is the only one I’ve read.

Here’s the setup: After his editor’s son accidentally drowns the sole copy of his latest manuscript in the bathtub, the author decides to publish that biography — of three-legged circus performer-cum-deodorant magnate and humanitarian Jonathan Blashette — through the only part of the text that survives: the footnotes.

Point the first: I don’t think any other author (that I’ve encountered, anyway) could pull off a fictional narrative consisting wholly of footnotes. Dunn did it, and did it well. So very clever.

Point the second: I was laughing out loud for the first half of the book or so. I found it quite humorous.

Number three: The laughs trailed off as the end of the book neared. With biographies, fictional or not, I guess we generally know how they end? Not that thrilling. Or exciting. Or funny.

Overall, totally worth it, but I was somewhat disappointed in the end. I’m just not sure how justified my feelings on that subject are. Maybe it was unavoidable.

4.5 stars (out of 5)

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4 responses to “Ibid by Mark Dunn

  1. I’ve never heard of this book but I did love Ella Minnow Pea. It sounds like this one is just as clever.

  2. I loved Ella Minnow Pea too, and promised I would search for more novels by Mark Dunn but never did — shame on me! So thank you for sharing this, I’ll be sure to check it out.
    BTW: I am looking forward to reading another narrative book that is (as far as I could understand) made up of footnotes only, “Translator’s Revenge” by French author Brice Matthieussent. I find it funny that I’m now going to place both in the same order!

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