BSS #79: Mark Z. Danielewski


Condition of Mr. Segundo: Horrified by “misprinted” books.

Author: Mark Z. Danielewski

Subjects Discussed: The origins of Only Revolutions, Hailey’s appearance in House of Leaves, the use of obscure uncanonized words in Only Revolutions (and their various origins), hip-hop, Gene Wolfe, Anthony Burgess, teenagers and vocabulary, how structure affects wordplay, skateboards, the influence of movies, the dots on the right-hand corner, on whether Danielewski is an experimental writer, fonts and typography, leaving room for ambiguity in a taut structure, the urgency in getting Only Revolutions finalized, the leftwrist twist, how the circular symbol came about, and immortality and maturity.

[PLEASE NOTE: The most enthusiastic answer from an author in Bat Segundo history occurs at 32:49.]


Danielewski: I don’t think I’m an experimental writer. I don’t really know what that means, in fact, an experimental writer. For me, it’s always an exploration. I just can’t help but think, you know, when you experiment, you’re kind of tinkering. And this is such a prolonged investigation. You don’t tinker for six years. It’s a long quest to see where something goes. And the thing I really stand by is that I’ve fulfilled the qualities of Sam and Hailey’s journey. Now whether it’s a success or not, it’s clear what it is. It’s not halfly done. It’s wholly, spinningly done. You can either say, I don’t care for it. Or you can recognize, wow, if we go, if we follow this path to its — maybe not its conclusion, but as a long way, this is kind of where it ends up going. And these are the things you get out of it. And these are things you don’t get out of it. And that creates a valid type of conversation.


  1. I read “House of Leaves” about a month ago and loved it. I can’t wait to get my hands on “Only Revolutions.” I’ll definitely have to come back and listen to the show when I have time.

  2. Ed, you showed your intelligence in this interview (and again I think this book is much too smart for me), but we’re you arguing with the author?
    At least he was nicer than Nora Ephron.

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