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The Whalestoe Letters by Mark Z. Danielewski
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The Whalestoe Letters (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Mark Z. Danielewski

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339632,414 (3.65)10
Member:aethercowboy
Title:The Whalestoe Letters
Authors:Mark Z. Danielewski
Info:Pantheon (2000), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 86 pages
Collections:Your library, GT3, Have read, 2012 (inactive)
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, epistemology, companion literature

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The Whalestoe Letters by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

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Showing 5 of 5
Having read House of Leaves, I found the back matter to be just as interesting as the footnotes, and possibly the main story itself. When I saw a standalone version of the letters from Johnny Truant’s mother to him, I wondered what the point was. I assume to make this book publishable, Danielewski took the liberty of adding some information, including 11 new, unpublished letters.

Within these pages, we see a sine-curve of madness as Johnny’s mother communicates with her displaced son some time after being admitted to a mental institution, and some shorter time after her husband, Johnny’s father, dies in an accident.

Taken by itself, it paints a sad picture of a lonely, unstable mother and her self-destructive son occasionally breaking her heart. Taken with the rest of House of Leaves, it paints a broader picture of one of the unreliable narrators in the tangled web of narrators in the book. That is, of course, if you can trust the accuracy of what she is writing to him.

I recommend this book only to fans of House of Leaves, especially those who would like to learn more about Johnny, and who found the original collection of letters from his mother to be fascinating. They’re all there, still, as is a bit more information. If this is not you, you can probably safely avoid this book without losing out. ( )
  aethercowboy | Dec 28, 2012 |
While I feel the Whalestoe letters are the heart and soul of "House of Leaves," I think they're better suited to being read as a part of that larger work than here seperately. There are a few "new" letters included in this edition but I didn't feel they shed any new light on the characters or plot. Worth a perusal, I suppose, but a rather unnecessary publication all around. ( )
  bugaboo4 | May 4, 2010 |
The Whalestoe Letters by Mark Z. Danielewski is an extension of his premier novel, House of Leaves. Initially appearing as an appendix to the novel, The Whalestoe Letters (which includes ten additional letters) are those written by Johnny Truant's mother Pelafina H. Lievre during her residence at the insane asylum. Like House of Leaves as a whole, TheWhalestoe Letters is to fiction and literature what thought experiments are to physics; Danielewski seems to write and publish to push boundaries and test waters for no other reasons than curiosity. While I would argue that the experiment of House of Leaves is very interesting, his subsequent publications are less successful. The (limited) success of The Whalestoe Letters is that it makes me want to go back and read House of Leaves once again. ( )
1 vote Luxx | Dec 16, 2009 |
Protagonist: Pelafina Lièvre
Setting: the Three Attic Whalestoe Institute in Virginia in the 1980s
Epistolary fiction

First Line: Beside the fact that she was of fierce intelligence and beautiful at that, she was mad.

Written as a series of letters from an institution for the mentally disturbed, Pelafina Lièvre reaches out to her son, Johnny, in the only way she can. For the uninitiated, the first half of the book can make you wonder why on earth she's in there. Then the chilling sentence comes about not taking her medication. What follows is a psychotic break that's chilling in what it reveals. This is a little masterpiece. ( )
  cathyskye | May 18, 2008 |
It's hard to rate this as a stand-alone book, but I gave it a 3.5 anyway. I didn't follow Pelafina's story too much in House of Leaves itself, so it's good to have it in non-brick form. ( )
  Sykil | Sep 16, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375714413, Paperback)

Between 1982 and 1989, Pelafina H. Lièvre sent her son, Johnny Truant, a series of letters from The Three Attic Whalestoe Institute, a psychiatric facility in Ohio where she spent the final years of her life. Beautiful, heartfelt, and tragic, this correspondence reveals the powerful and deeply moving relationship between a brilliant though mentally ill mother and the precocious, gifted young son she never ceases to love.

Originally contained within the monumental House of Leaves, this collection stands alone as a stunning portrait of mother and child. It is presented here along with a foreword by Walden D. Wyhrta and eleven previously unavailable letters.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:52 -0400)

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