David Markson, 82, a revered postmodern author who rummaged relentlessly and humorously through art, history, and reality itself in such novels as

Wittgenstein's Mistress

, and wrote crime fiction, poetry and a spoof of Westerns made into the Frank Sinatra film

Dirty Dingus Magee

, has died.

Mr. Markson's two children found him on June 4 in his bed in his Greenwich Village apartment, the author's literary agent and former wife, Elaine Markson, said Monday. She did not know the cause of death or when he died, but said he had been in failing health.

Little-known to the general public, Mr. Markson was idolized by a core of fans that included Ann Beattie and David Foster Wallace. He was celebrated for his insights and for how he expressed them, often in paragraphs of just a sentence or two.

Wittgenstein's Mistress, his most acclaimed work, and other novels were interior monologues on the world and the state of the author's mind. "Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like," was how he summed up his approach, in his novel Reader's Block.

A native of Albany, N.Y., raised by a newspaper editor (his father) and schoolteacher (his mother), Mr. Markson was an undergraduate at Union College, then received a master's in 1952 from Columbia University.

Mr. Markson edited crime fiction at Dell Books in the 1950s and wrote "entertainments," detective novels, now cult favorites, including Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat. Wittgenstein's Mistress was published in 1988 by Dalkey Archive Press after being rejected by more than 20 publishers, Elaine Markson said. - AP