The audience, mimicking the bright spotlight, was transfixed by Peter Markus as his reading teleported them into the sensory world of his unique novels.
Peter Markus, author of “The Singing Fish,” “Bob, or Man on Boat,” “We Make Mud” and others, conducted a book reading at the University as part of the Writers on Writing seminar hosted by the Literary Arts Department. The seminar provides students the opportunity to attend readings and interact with the accomplished writers behind the works they are studying.
For this seminar, Markus read an excerpt from his book “The Singing Fish,” which the students had studied that week. Markus engaged the audience with his humorous remark comparing reading his older work to listening to one’s favorite old record.
“The Singing Fish” is an abstract book that effortlessly captures the sense of wonder and innocence of two brothers, the dual protagonists of the book. Markus contrasts this playfulness with graphic and brutal imagery to highlight the antithetical view of violent ideas through a lens of youthful innocence.
Markus’ “cadence driven” style is highly influenced by his background as a “failed” musician, as “sound is the one driving force” of his writing, he said. This lyrical quality can be seen in the use of literary techniques of repetition and circumlocution. His organic artistic process was also guided by his other senses as he emphasized the importance of “the visual texture of each word.”
The value of the acoustics ensured that Markus’ reading created a distinctive experience in comparison to silently reading his books.
Markus further discussed the readers’ value and influence upon his writing process. He emphasized the organic quality of this process. However, he often broke the fourth wall in his book as a “playful acknowledgement” to his readers; it is “Peter Markus underneath the words,” he told the audience, highlighting the intimacy and passion behind his writing.