Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Only Revolutions: Mark Z. Danielewski, June 16, 2015 My rating: ♦◊◊◊◊
Only Revolutions is a bitter disappointment.
Telling the story of lovers Sam and Hailley, who are “always” sixteen and inexplicably transcend both time and location, it is split into two narratives; one by each.
The layout of the book is clever. Start at one end and you get Sam’s account taking up most of the page, with Hailley’s upside down in small text at the bottom. Flip the book and it’s the inverse, leading you through the entire novel twice. There’s some other jumbo jumbo in the margin. The letter O is always coloured green or yellow, dependent on the writer.
The publisher suggests alternating the reading of the accounts, which are in no way divided into chapters or other discernible sections, eight pages at a time. It’s good advice; the symmetry between the accounts is obvious in these well-portioned chunks; complimentary and contradictory.
The issue is that the prose itself is completely incoherent. It literally makes no sense. The occasional profound thought or rhyme might well be worth sticking on a fridge magnet, but adds nothing to the story. Indeed, it’s quite impossible to work out what the story actually is. It feels like Johnny Truant. Danielewski’s drug-addled occasional-narrator in House of Leaves, has gotten utterly off his face and written a whole novel himself.
I love it when authors experiment and do something different, and Leaves is such a respected cult classic that I had high hopes for Revolutions. Sadly, it seems it wasn’t me that was high. It’s utterly unreadable, cannot be understood and a slog of Herculean promotions to make it to the end. This should have been fantastic.