Forget Joyce and Pynchon. Has Danielewski Upped the Ante?

L.A. Times: “Fortunately, like ‘Hopscotch,’ ‘Only Revolutions’ comes with brief user instructions (read eight pages of Sam, then turn it over and read eight pages of Hailey; rinse and repeat). But given that the book consists of 45 of these eight-page sets, with exactly 180 words on each page, the typeface progressively diminishing in size until the parallel narratives meet in the middle, reading it could well require office supplies — in my case, two bookmarks, three sets of Post-its, a dictionary, a ruler, a stapler (don’t ask) and a calculator, along with a bottle of Bordeaux. I pushed all the way through and even found parts of it enjoyable — maybe less like a history of love than advanced Sudoku over Sunday brunch.”

I’ve just started getting into my copy of Only Revolutions, without Vankin’s ancillary stash, and I realize that I’m going to have to read this book several times. Here’s a sample passage from page 101 (Sam’s side): “Calmly I fustigate NURSE BOZARK to react. She doesn’t, filing her toes. fortunately, EXTERNIES race over. Checking for pulse.” But I’m finding the website a bit helpful.


  1. I have read “Only Revolutions,” at least insofar as is possible to do this at all, once. And, as someone who was initially floored by “House of Leaves” but ulitmately left cold and empty by its overly ironic conceits, and as somebody who virtually inhales the prose of Pynchon & Co., I found “Only Revolutions”–the idea behind it, as well as the finished (or, as it were, unfinishable) prduct, to be pretentious, not portentous. And just the thought of putting him, and his “products,” in the same sentence as Pynchon makes my skin crawl. Pynchon opened the floodgates, true enough. But, while Danielewski has learned the pomod motions, he is missing that rare thing that separates the writers from the wannabes: humility.

    If you brush away all the fancy fonts and odd margin-ing, all you’re left with Danielewski is a boring, one-dimensional story and shallow, false-feeling characters.

    Perhaps he should spend more time listening to people, rather than talking down to them.

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