First Lines: Ibid, A Life

The reason I put Mark Dunn’s Ibid: A Life on my list of 40 books to read before my 40th birthday, was its novelty value. As explained in the introduction, the author wrote an biography of Jonathan Blashette (a circus performer born with three legs who goes on to make a fortune in the deodorant business and becomes a famous philanthropist) which accidentally got destroyed. All that was left were the end-notes, which his publisher wanted to publish anyway.

So, a biography of a fictitious, three-legged entrepreneur, told through nothing but end-notes. While I do believe that the concept could work if played straight, I was not that impressed by the execution. The author seems to have had a lot of fun making up all the references and events, but the whole thing was often too far-fetched, too on-the-nose, and, to be honest, not all that funny if it was supposed to be humorous. Conceptually it succeeds, but as a story, it under-delivers.

Book read
Ibid: A Life. A novel in footnotes by Mark Dunn
First line
1. “Turned out that womb of his mother’s wasn’t barren at all.”