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The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May…
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The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May (edition 2015)

by Mark Z. Danielewski

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2641043,112 (3.57)10
Member:TheAlternativeOne
Title:The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May
Authors:Mark Z. Danielewski
Info:Pantheon (2015), Paperback, 880 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Science Fiction

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The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This first volume (of a planned 27 volumes) of The Familiar by Mark Z. Danielewski is very much an introduction to a series. There are multiple story lines, but the main one focuses on a twelve year old girl (Xanther) who is soon to acquire a new pet on a rain soaked Los Angeles day.

Each chapter concerns one of the nine main stories, which are mostly kept separate from each other in this volume. The fonts, language, tone and style differ in each of these perspectives to better differentiate between the characters therein from the rest.

Anyone who has read Danielewski's other works (House Of Leaves, The Fifty Year Sword, Only Revolutions) will be familiar with the unique style that he brings to the table with the unusual format of text littering these pages. Some pages have only a single word, while others have an immense amount ("How many raindrops?") which are made to look like what the character is looking at (a rainstorm).

I found some of the characters more engaging (Xanther and her parents ([Anwar] and (Astair)), Oz, Luther) and others less so (Jingjing). With this many stories and characters, favouritism for some is always a likely possibility.

Given the number of characters and story lines introduced in this novel, even with 800 plus pages, we don't spend a significant amount of time with anyone but Xanther and her family. This means that there is little in the way of plot advancement for many of these characters (how much can happen in one day?) - it's mainly sequences of 'slice of life' moments that we see in this volume.
In order to get the most out of the book, you need to think of The Familiar as a television series and One Rainy Day In May as episode number one. If you can't do that then this book is likely not for you. This is only the beginning, everything will either come together or unravel at a later date, but until then it is too soon to make any definitive call on the series. This may mean that it would be worth while to wait until several volumes have been released before reading them, and deciding based on that whether The Familiar is for you. Sometimes you need more than one episode to make up your mind.

Putting aside the different fonts, the coloured text, and the creative formatting, the heart of this book is the familial relationship between Xanther and her parents. If for nothing else, this makes Volume One of The Familiar worth the effort. ( )
  Wolfman08 | Aug 6, 2016 |
Oh Wow. This is such an amazing experience. And this is just the beginning! Can't wait for the next one... and the next one... and the next one etc etc. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 17, 2015 |
Oh Wow. This is such an amazing experience. And this is just the beginning! Can't wait for the next one... and the next one... and the next one etc etc. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 17, 2015 |
bwaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh
I can't believe it'll be 13 years before this is done. I can't even imagine how it will go, what it will be, how any of this connects or works.

but if Danielewski's stated goal was to make the novel compete with modern-day serialized television, he's doing it. He's also doing about eight hundred other things and kind of blowing my mind with each of them. I'm all in on this series, already - and dare-I-say excited to know that I'll have an installment to look forward to every six-or-so months from now until I'm pushing 40.

Oh my god I'll be pushing 40 when this is wrapping up. EEP.

And, I mean, there are plenty of things to call out in this staggeringly ambitious 'debut' - some awkward phrasing, some chapters/narrators that seem superfluous or completely incomprehensible - but, should you turn an overly-critical eye upon the book, you must remember: this is the first of a purported 27 volumes. This is, at best, an introduction. Perhaps, like in TV shows, characters or whole storylines will be cut adrift - perhaps we won't even notice. Maybe we'll get 8, 12, 22 volumes in and realize we're being hosed and that the whole thing will never make sense. But Danielewski is deploying all of his many talents here, showing a love of research, a love of storytelling, and a pronounced desire to deliver a supremely entertaining literary experience that swallows you whole. I will, from now until 2028, be picking up these (absolutely beautiful) volumes as soon as they go onsale (and hopefully Strand will keep dropping them a few weeks early...) - because I want to know what happens next.

If you're willing to take the plunge, jump in now. Don't wait to binge-watch - let's do this old-school.

More at RB: http://ragingbiblioholism.com/2015/05/08/the-familiar-vol-1/ ( )
  drewsof | Sep 30, 2015 |
bwaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh
I can't believe it'll be 13 years before this is done. I can't even imagine how it will go, what it will be, how any of this connects or works.

but if Danielewski's stated goal was to make the novel compete with modern-day serialized television, he's doing it. He's also doing about eight hundred other things and kind of blowing my mind with each of them. I'm all in on this series, already - and dare-I-say excited to know that I'll have an installment to look forward to every six-or-so months from now until I'm pushing 40.

Oh my god I'll be pushing 40 when this is wrapping up. EEP.

And, I mean, there are plenty of things to call out in this staggeringly ambitious 'debut' - some awkward phrasing, some chapters/narrators that seem superfluous or completely incomprehensible - but, should you turn an overly-critical eye upon the book, you must remember: this is the first of a purported 27 volumes. This is, at best, an introduction. Perhaps, like in TV shows, characters or whole storylines will be cut adrift - perhaps we won't even notice. Maybe we'll get 8, 12, 22 volumes in and realize we're being hosed and that the whole thing will never make sense. But Danielewski is deploying all of his many talents here, showing a love of research, a love of storytelling, and a pronounced desire to deliver a supremely entertaining literary experience that swallows you whole. I will, from now until 2028, be picking up these (absolutely beautiful) volumes as soon as they go onsale (and hopefully Strand will keep dropping them a few weeks early...) - because I want to know what happens next.

If you're willing to take the plunge, jump in now. Don't wait to binge-watch - let's do this old-school.

More at RB: http://ragingbiblioholism.com/2015/05/08/the-familiar-vol-1/ ( )
  drewsof | Sep 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
...this book reads less like a novel than an art project put together by a college sophomore after his third joint. The reader is introduced to the first Singapore section with “they saysay she tutor demons, lah. saysay mice dance to her finger snap and a pelesit.” Not long after, the reader is whisked away to Marfa, where the two scientists speak to each other in what sounds like dialogue from Matrix fan fiction. (Danielewski later name-checks the science fiction film, because of course he does.)

Authors do not have a responsibility to write easy books. But the problem with The Familiar isn’t that it’s difficult; it’s that it’s unreadable. Take away the typographical gimmicks, the frequently unfathomable dialogue, and the confusing storylines that pass for a plot, and you’re essentially left with nothing.
 
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I've said what matters, he seems to have shouted, but all that matters he had shouted in an unintelligible way.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375714944, Paperback)

From the author of the international best seller House of Leaves and National Book Award-nominated Only Revolutions comes a monumental new novel as dazzling as it is riveting. The Familiar (Vol.1) ranges from Mexico to Southeast Asia, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, with nine lives hanging in the balance, each called upon to make a terrifying choice. They include a therapist-in-training grappling with daughters as demanding as her patients; an ambitious East L.A. gang member contracted for violence; two scientists in Marfa, Texas, on the run from an organization powerful beyond imagining; plus a recovering addict in Singapore summoned at midnight by a desperate billionaire; and a programmer near Silicon Beach whose game engine might unleash consequences far exceeding the entertainment he intends. 

At the very heart, though, is a 12-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous . . . which will change not only her life and the lives of those she has yet to encounter, but this world, too—or at least the world we think we know and the future we take for granted.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:00 -0400)

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