Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You Can Only Push Me So Far, Quirky Genius Man

I've finally found a book I hate. Ok, wait. Let me be honest. The book is far too smart for me, so I hate it.

Mark Z. Danielewski's "Only Revolutions"

Here's what I believe to be the official site for this...this mind scramble of a book. http://www.onlyrevolutions.com/

And I was really looking forward to this book, too. I read and really enjoyed Danielewski's "House of Leaves". Now, I didn't get A LOT of that one, either. But it at least started out with easy to follow text...and then got all weird. It sucked me in and I was invested and interested when the footnotes got out of control and the strange little puzzle pieces started making their way onto the pages.

When I first picked it up Revolutions to read it, I opened it and my heart dropped. It appeared that much of it was poetry. I really don't like poetry at all. Wait, I actually hate it. I wouldn't have purchased this book had I realized there was poetry-like verse through much of it. I had merely picked it up knowing that Danielewski wrote it and a glance at the pages proved that the same strange footnote/text/color/random blocks of text floating about were used in this book as his other one.

I decided that despite the poetry, I'd give it a try. And what I got was an authoritative flick in the brain before I'd even gotten through one sentence. "Why would you try and read me? You should probably go find some form of chick lit."

This is the "Hailey" side. Starts with a big "H". Then you flip the book, and it becomes the "Sam" side. Starting with the big "S". (unless, of course, one should start with the Sam side...but who effing knows.)

Which was fine, I was ready for that.


I was, however, NOT ready for the upside down and all over the place shenanigans to be there from the very first page.

Not sure if you can tell, but half of the page is upside down. PAGE ONE! On both sides!

I went to the all-knowing internet to see if perhaps instead of a story, this was merely a piece of art. Like, a collage. And maybe I wasn't meant to get it. No. Turns out I'm just incapable of following instructions on how to read this book. INSTRUCTIONS. The only HINT of instruction, I found later, is on the inside jacket in the second paragraph, on the "Hailey" side.

If I know I want to read a book, if I've already purchased it, I'm not going to read the jacket. AND, it's more of a friendly hint than instructions: "If you turn the book upside down and swing it around every eight pages, you can alternate the monologues of its two narrators, Sam and Haley, so as to spin them together..."

THANKS A PANTLOAD for that oh so helpful information you buried in the jacket. On only one side.

So let me make sure you understand what has to be done. YOU HAVE TO TURN THE BOOK UPSIDE DOWN AND AROUND EVERY 8 PAGES. Really? Yes. And you know what? If that were all that it took, I'd try to read it. But the combination of having to keep track of every 8 pages, as well as the footnotes and strange ... things on those pages ... AND having to flip it like a flapjack? Fraid not. I'm out.

There is something I really liked about it though. The dedication page reads "you were there." (on both sides) which I thought was fantastic. Without even really knowing why - as most of my life goes.

Another thing I learned about it from the net - because I would have never gotten it on my own - hooray - the page numbers are on the right side, middle of the page in a circle. When you flip the pages like a flip book, the page numbers "revolve" inside the circle. I took a video of it to try and show you. Apparently my white hot anger at this book makes my focus and video skills non-exestent - but you can kinda see it.

Is it a Yo-Yo? Or is it a book? I do not know.

This book can bite my giant ignorant hiney right after the creators of daylight savings time do.


Gnightgirl said...

I typeset/compose college textbook layouts for a living. Many have several styles of boxes, tables, figures, footnotes, photos, and line art to keep track of, and after 20 years, it's no big deal.

This book, though, would have made me and my proofreaders starkraving mad. I almost go into a coma looking at those pages. Cool, though.

ZooooM said...

Hi Gnightgrl! If you find this layout interesting, you should really find a copy of House of Leaves (the reasonable crazy) in a bookstore or library, and just flip through it to see the fun layout of the book. And it is cool. Which is why I was looking so forward to this second novel of his.

But Revolutions is far too crazy WAY too early for me to attempt it. And I hate having a book in my home that I can't read. It is now simply a flip book to amuse friends with.

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

That would drive me bonky. I mean, I love books, but I love READING books, not freakin' flipping them around & tossing them in the air & holding them up to mirrors & tying them into slipknots so that I can count to eight a million times while trying to follow a plot & characters, too. I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on its quality, but it seems like a great big fat gimmick to keep the audience busy so that they won't notice it's terrible.....

ZooooM said...

Kimber, Danielewski's first book created much debate about whether it was a giant joke on the public or brilliant. Because of the format and impossible content/footnotes, etc.

I still don't know which one it is.

He just brought up the attention grabbing parts of his book so much in this second one that it felt more like trying to catch a greased pig to me.

Rev. Brandy said...

Hey Zoomy! I loved "House of Leaves" and missed probably half of it but still loved its convolutedness. This might be too much for me. Have you gotten through it yet?