Clever. That's the best word to describe Mark Dunn's fictional biography Ibid: A Life, a novel told solely in footnotes. (Quirky is another good word for it.) When the only copy of Dunn's manuscript about Jonathan Blashette, a man born with three legs, is accidentally destroyed, Dunn's publishing company agrees to publish what's left: the footnotes. Set in the early 1900s, Ibid is a "biography by inference"; everything you learn about Blashette's life--his tour with a traveling circus as a child, the many women he loves, and his invention of deoderant for men--is hinted at through side stories and interesting, albeit somewhat trivial, historical tangents.
It's an intriguing way to tell a story, though it did feel a little choppy. And it was sometimes hard to find the thread of plot. Some chapters were really humorous and entertaining; others dragged. And through it all, I never felt like I really got to know Blashette. Still, I'm glad I read this original novel by Mark Dunn. It's only 269 pages, so it reads pretty fast. Though I have to admit, I like his novel Ella Minnow Pea better.