Only Revolutions by Mark Z Danielewski - review by John Dugdale

John Dugdale

Joyce Would Be Proud

Only Revolutions


Doubleday 360pp £20

Mark Danielewski had a promising go at creating unreadable fiction in his debut, House of Leaves. Crudely summarisable as a horror story about a house that keeps alarmingly changing shape, it featured three layered narratives – records in various media kept by the family who lived there, the notebooks of a blind man obsessed with the house and the family’s terrifying experiences, and the ramblings of a tattooist who discovered these notebooks after their author’s death.

Readers were also asked to cope with myriad textual forms and visual materials, a plethora of footnotes, and typographical antics. The key non-horror influences were clearly Laurence Sterne and Lewis Carroll, but filtered through Godardian art cinema and Derrida.

Now Danielewski has raised the ante with a follow-up which makes House of Leaves seem like child’s play. On the simplest level, it combines two teenagers’ versions of how they met, fell in love and journeyed across America. But Hailey’s account starts from the opposite end of Only Revolutions to

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