Tag Archives: Mark Z. Danielewski

Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

On New Year’s Day I visited the Strand Bookstore at the corner of 12th Street and Broadway in New York City. The Strand is my favorite place in the world; visiting it is a necessary experience for any book lover able to afford a trip to New York. I used to live within walking distance of it, and visit every time I am in the city. I hadn’t been to it since February 2011, which was the longest amount of time I’d been away since I first shopped there. I bought so much that I couldn’t fit it all in my suitcase and had to ship most of the books to myself. I was waiting for all of them to arrive here in Utah before writing about them.

Baker, Nicholson. The Everlasting Story of Nory. 1998. New York: Vintage, 1999.

Baker is one of my favorite writers, and this is the only one of his novels that I didn’t have. I read it on the plane home yesterday and it was a light, fun read, though not as good as his other books.

Calvino, Italo. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler. 1979. Trans. William Weaver. Orlando: Harcourt, 1981.

This book was recently recommended to me by a colleague.

Danielewski, Mark Z. The Fifty Year Sword. New York: Pantheon, 2012.

I really enjoy the infusion of visual elements in Danielewski’s writing (which itself is so-so). This book is stimulating as an object: it includes Danielewski’s usual printed flights of fancy, and its dust jacket is riddled with pinholes that make the book look like it has chicken pox.

Houellebecq, Michel. Platform. 2001. Trans. Frank Wynne. New York: Vintage, 2004.

I’ve been meaning to read Houellebecq for a while because of my interest in fiction about sex. This was (perhaps surprisingly) the only one of his books in stock.

Hughes, Langston. Not Without Laughter. 1930. New York: Scribner, 1995.

I love Hughes’s poetry, but haven’t read any of his fiction, thus I was happy to buy this volume when I saw it on sale for only $5.95.

Pamuk, Orhan. The Museum of Innocence. 2008. Trans. Maureen Freely. London: Faber, 2010.

I recently read about this book, which has a corresponding museum curated by Pamuk in Istanbul.

Wallace, David Foster. Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. 1999. New York: Back Bay, 2000.

—. Girl With Curious Hair. New York: Norton, 1989.

—. Oblivion. 2004. New York: Back Bay, 2005.

I love Wallace’s writing, and was happy that the Strand had all three of his short story collections in stock.

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Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix

Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix is a fantastic printed object that deserves space in the canon of American postmodern fiction. It is the 1999 version of Invisible Monsters in its original intended form, which asks the reader to jump back and forth throughout the volume, kind of like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book from the 1980s. For instance, the end of the introduction instructs the reader to “jump to Chapter Forty-one,” where the novel begins. The end of that chapter directs the reader to another chapter, eventually culminating in the final chapter near the middle of the volume, which is marked “The End” in place of further direction.

However, this chapter sequence only covers the chapters from the original novel. There are around ten (I’m too lazy to go back and count!) new chapters interspersed throughout the book, some that extend the story of the novel and some that describe its original composition and how the idea for the Remix came about. If one has not been paying attention to which chapters have been read, it is easy to miss these new chapters. But the introduction suggests marking each read page with an X, which is what I did, and then I went through the book looking to check if there were any unread pages, thus discovering the new chapters. There are three sequences of new chapters that loop back on themselves, so the reader could begin with any of the chapters in the sequence and still encounter all of the chapters (e.g., I began the first sequence with chapter three because it was the first unread chapter that I discovered, and the last chapter I read in the sequence directed me back to chapter three, so even if I had begun with a different chapter in the sequence I still would have gotten to all of its chapters).

Two of the new sequences involve pages that are printed backwards so that the reader must use a mirror to read them.

Pages 16-17 of Invisible Monsters Remix.

A close-up of page 16 of Invisible Monsters Remix.

 

Palahniuk acknowledges that readers “older, than, say, twenty-two” will hate this gimmick (104), but I love it! I appreciate books that try to stretch the limit of what a physical book can be, which is why I like the Remix so much. It combines elements of previous postmodern texts such as B.S. Johnson’s The Unfortunates and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Even if one is not a fan of Palahniuk, the Remix is worth reading because of how it tries to break through the novel’s conventional generic form.

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