Booking Through Thursday: Odd Reads

All the exciting events of the last few weeks have me way off my reading schedule and I have nothing to review for today.  That makes me sad, but I hope to make it back to my usual reading speed soon.  In the meantime, here’s a Booking Through Thursday meme.


What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read? Did you like it? Hate it? Did it make you think?

 

The very first thing that comes to mind is anything Mark Z. Danielewski has touched.  I discovered his work through his sister, a musician that goes by the name of Poe.  When she released her album Haunted, I found mention that it was somewhat an accompaniment to her brother’s debut book House of Leaves.  It wasn’t until a few years later when I was living in Chicago for the summer that I managed to pick up this 700+ page tome of crazy.  To attempt to explain the book would be futile.  Plot-wise it’s a book about a book about a film about a hallway that suddenly appears in a house that contrasts and expands as it desires.  It’s written like a documentary about a documentary about a documentary with footnotes, multiple appendices, letters and photographs/scraps of evidence that support the “author’s” story.  I had to keep my own notebook of notes to make sure I could keep all the characters and events straight!

Stylistically it’s just as odd.  There are passages that are written backwards and/or in mirrored text, in Latin, in odd geometric shapes, and a series of pages with one tiny word on each page to express the vast emptiness of this creepy house.  It is a trippy book that was not a wise choice for reading at night in a tiny apartment in an unfamiliar city thousands of miles away from home.  And I loved every page of it.

Then, of course, there’s his other book, Only Revolutions, a book told from two perspectives on a page where you have to flip the book upside down to read the other version of the story.  It has lists of dates and events down the side of each page that I’m still not entirely sure I understand.  That one I didn’t like as much.  Did I mention that it’s told in verse with varying size text and that every six pages it’s recommended to flip the book over and read the other version?  Read outloud, it was delicious.  He can do amazing things with words, though then attempting to break through the style to get the content itself became a bit rough.  If I ever attempt to get a master's degree, I imagine I could write a dissertation on how the stylistic elements - both visual and verbal - tell the real story while the content itself is just there as wrapping paper.

Yeah, Mark Z. Danielewski is an odd duck.