I was looking at my book shelf today and realized I haven’t mentioned my favourites of the books I’ve read this year. I have three exceptional books from three of the authors I most love that I want to recommend. I should take the time to share them before I forget to entirely.
Up first is Mark Z. Danielewski‘s Only Revolutions. It’s a strange creation, a free-verse love story, road adventure, and destruction tale unlike anything else. I expected something like this from the author of House of Leaves, a book that blew my mind with its radical experimentation, deft storytelling and brilliant layering of meaning.
We follow Sam and Hailey, two reckless teens, as they shift through landscapes, transportation, characters and time. They fall in love, destroy everything, and create a story that is gripping and touching in surprising ways.
Only Revolutions immediately engages us in its makeup. The story is told twice, once from each of the main characters’ perspectives. We’re asked to read 8 pages from one story and 8 from the other, alternating by physically turning over the book, and marking our place with yellow and green bookmarks. Each page has upside down text, we notice, and find that this is the continuation of the other story. Certain letters and words are coloured, a more elaborate take on House of Leaves‘ blue house and red minotaur. The font size changes depending on the ego of the narrator. So many tricks of design enhance the story.
On the side of each page is a list of historical events that take place as a background to the main narrative. During the making of the book, Mark asked readers to send in events that would end up on the sidebar. I e-mailed about the Halifax Explosion of 1917, one of the defining moments for my city. This participation created the backdrop to the story and gives the work a compelling and surprising flavouring. I couldn’t help but grin when I saw my contribution within the pages of such a fantastic book.
There is so much to absorb from this book that I can only urge you to find a copy and experience it for yourself. It takes the form of the book and reshapes it into a fresh, immersive and thrilling experience that leaves most other books pale in comparison. Mark Z. Danielewski may very well be the most important voice in saving the novel’s vitality, and I would not want to have missed his newest contribution to that work.