Although best known today for his singular, stunning “anti–novels” dazzlingly conjured from anecdotes, quotes, and small thoughts, in his early days David Markson paid the rent by writing punchy, highly dramatic fictions. On the heels of a new double edition of his steamy noirs Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Deadbeat comes a new edition of his 1965 classic The Ballad of Dingus Magee, whose subtitle — “Immortal True Saga of the Most Notorious and Desperate Bad Man of the Olden Days, his Blood–Shedding, his Ruination of Poor Helpless Females, & Cetera” — gives readers a hint of the raucous sensibility at work here. Brimming with blasphemy, bullets, and bordellos, this hilarious tale, which inspired the Frank Sinatra movie Dirty Dingus McGee, shows the early Markson at his outrageous best, taking down, as Playboy put it, “the breeches of the Old West and blast[ing] what’s exposed with buckshot.”
The Ballad of Dingus Magee
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David Markson is the author of five novels, including Springer's Progress, Wittgenstein's Mistress, and Reader's Block. He is the recipient of several awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Salon Book Award. He lives in New York City.