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The Fifty Year Sword: Deluxe Edition

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  2,831 ratings  ·  455 reviews
This collector's edition of Mark Z. Danielewski'sThe Fifty Year Swordfeatures a deluxe slipcase with five metal latches, Nepalese binding (an exposed, specially stitched spine), and a signed frontispiece. Limited to 1,000 copies.

In this story set in East Texas, a local seamstress named Chintana finds herself responsible for five orphans who are not only captivated by a sto
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Pantheon (first published 2005)
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what's this??

okay, so maybe it's not as bad as all that. and maybe as a live shadow show "performed only on halloween night," this would have been more enjoyable to me. but as a book read on halloween night, by someone desperate for distraction after being a hurricane shut-in for a week, it was pretty but not terrifically entertaining.

pretty isn't cutting it.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Without providing a polemical piece on quantitative starrage ratings practiced so frequently in a consumer driven society, for THIS book, I've removed any trace of a star and imply no intention-to-mean by so doing. Sometime to revisit this objet d’art. But probably not until after Only Revolutions, and that one will be deferred.

The following is an execrable review written by someone who had already turned off his mind and did not bother to attempt to understand the book. For an inte
MZD, if nothing else, is an experimenter as much as he is a storyteller. His first and most famous book, House of Leaves, is a great bulk of a book, a maze within itself, brutally tearing at the art of the novel and our own fears. Only Revolutions, by contrast, is a rotten egg, forcing the reader to spin the book every eight pages for little reward. If you try and crack it open with further analysis, you get only a turgid rotten mass inside. Despite all of its attempts at technical innovation, i ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Michelle rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists, Suckas
Shelves: olio, disappointments

"'Barf barf barf barf barf barf barf

barf barf barf barf barf barf.

"'Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

"'I can't believe I spent money on


piece of crap.'"

"'Should have learned my lesson

Only Revolutions.

Dec 08, 2012 Ali rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Danielewski altar worshippers/completists, if you must.
Formerly a status with comments, but reviewfied and expanded per NR'S request. I like this format better, anyway, because the character limits don't keep me down and limit my creativity as much as those status updates. Consider this my version of sticking it to the man, man! *Insert bong hits.*

The Fifty Year Sword is a special book. Not because of its content, which is as I suspected so average it's average, but because my reading of it marks the only time in my wunnerful wunnerful Goodreadsexpe
Caleb Ross
This, a video review of Mark Z. Danielewski's The Fifty Year Sword, which gets released in the US in October 2012. Not many people have read this one. And if I can help it, not many more will.

Help me spread the good word by clicking the Like button under the YouTube video. Also, why not subscribe while you're at it?
Aug 24, 2014 Mimi rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, unless you're really really curious
This is a hard one. While I liked it and foundit interesting, I'm not sure anyone else would because this book is the very definition of gimmick and novelty item. Evidence: the packaging (it comes in a wooden box with metal latches, need I say more?). More evidence: there's interesting needlework on the inside. Even more evidence: the original price and number of books printed (only 1,000). I should hate it for this alone, but I don't because it's quirky and sort of cute, like an inside joke.

Amy Nicole
The story itself is short but morbid and fantastical. A mysterious storyteller visits a party one night and tells five orphans a story about the Fifty Year Sword: one that is invisible but deadly. Definitely recommend.

It's written using quotes (from five different narrators) that are pieced together in a poem-like way to create the story. It was difficult to adjust to that pattern at first, but once you get in the rhythm it's great. The plot really picks up about halfway through, and it becomes
'What I have to tell you,' he began slowly. 'I must show you. But what I show you I must also tell you. I have only myself and where I've been and what I found and what I now bring. And it will frighten you.'

I'm sure the majority of people that braved House of Leaves would likely never be willing to pick up another Danielewski book again. I know I wasn't planning to, but somehow this ended up going home with me. Quite similar to House of Leaves in that it also has strange formatting and a trippy
Jim Elkins
Let's strip this book of its components, one by one.

1. The book was done in collaboration with three "stitchers," who sewed the sometimes very elaborate patterns that are reproduced throughout the book. The problem here is that the stitching only intermittently connects with the narrative. The key moment when a box with five latches is opened (p. 212 ff.) is illustrated with full-page, full-color photographs of stitched rectangles intended to illustrate the latches. But there is no connection be
Aug 11, 2008 Brian rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Amy Barklow
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaclyn Michelle

The Fifty Year Sword was originally published in 2005 as a limited edition, and is usually only performed on Halloween night as a live shadow show. This month, however, it was re-released by Pantheon Books and I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy.

Like Danielewski's previous work, the story being told is as important as how it's being told, which is as important as how it looks as it's being told. As in House of Leaves, which used multiple fonts
I am madly in love with this eerie, haunting little ghost story. I loved House of Leaves, of course, and this book has a similar intellectually playful style without the crass porn aspects of the other. It presents in the style of a folktale, the story of a woman making her reluctant appearance at a party and joining the audience as a mysterious figure tells a spooky story to five orphans.

Of course, like just about any ghost story worth reading, it's not really about ghosts or fantasy, even thou
It's official. Mark Z. Danielewski has lost his mind.

Let's get my quick impressions out of the way first. This book is attempt at ee cummings in long form with little drawings throughout. It's nearly incomprehensible for half of the book, then resumes a fairly straightforward narrative that leads... NOWHERE.

"House of Leaves" was so good, so very very good and scary and different. Danielewski really proved himself to be a fresh and fascinating voice in literature... Then came "Only Revolutions,"
Wyatt Packard
I don't normally rate books that I do not finish, based primarily on having suffered through some very bad beginnings only to be surprised and happy by the end. As a library aide, I also have no desire to discourage reading, that would be bad for business! I am making an exception to The Fifty Year Sword however, as this book is, quite frankly, a waste of the paper it's printed on. (And I do mean that, as only every other page actually has words printed on them and most pages only have a few sen ...more
"Nesting quotation
"upon quotation
"upon quotation.
"Such weird stylishness seems to come from
"no other than

"yes, indeed,
"another turn is taken: more colours—
"less form.
"Yet even more vagishness, as a stepping stone
"to Only Revolutions.
"Really short, this one is,
"which suits its setting of a ghost story.
"Albeit an inventive, subtle one.

"It takes a while to become interesting,
"but delivers in an anti-climactic way of sorts.
"yes, subtle!
"I can live with that.
"The format is n
Anna Janelle
A beautiful, breath-taking color edition. The embroidery illustrations alone are worth a look. The detail is awe inspiring - the pin holes in the book sleeve, the illustrations that surround the text, the blood-red binding thread inside. Gorgeous. There is artistry in this novel. I wish I owned my own copy - and I'll be sure to add this to my wish-to-own list. I'll going to attempt to read it one more time before I have to return it to the library. I'll be sure to include my later thoughts as we ...more
Dale Jr.
A first and possibly last venture into Danielewski pages. I was lent this book from a friend of mine. She thought that maybe I'd enjoy it. I can't say that there weren't moments or excerpts which I did, actually, enjoy. Some pieces I may have even found beautifully tragic: spite of so many climbing / figures / on so many / paths, I was completely / alone up there. / Far worse than the / petrified shadows and the falling / notes, the multiplication upon / multiplication of my own solitude /
1) Objective description, 2) my review, 3) recapitulation of format.

1) Every other page is blank, the reason for this is not readily apparent (even after reading the book). The pages with text comprise at most 1/5th of a full page, and at minimum a single word "me." The margins (in all four edges) are generous. In total, the book comprises ~30 full pages of text, and that approximation is generous. The artwork is very fine, and the pages are printed on thick paper. The physical quality of the bo
I'm a big Danielewski fan, but I was always frustrated by the scarcity of this book. Only two thousand copies printed, and they were printed for the Netherlands market. But, finally, after years of lusting, I received a near-mint copy of the second printing as a birthday gift. I do not exaggerate when I say that this is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all time.

But enough about my personal story. You want to know about the book and whether or not it's worth your time and/or money.

The Fifty
This is the first Danielewski I've read, and I definitely dug it. Thread and blades and some beautifully crafted lines. Plus I love a book that feels expansive but still reads in a single gulp. The art component is a great touch too. For those in the indie scene, this reminded me in parts of Shane Jones's The Failure Six. Give it a read. Even if you hate it it will only take about an hour or so of your time.
Beth Browne
Holy cow. This book is something else. I actually put it back on the shelf at first because it looked too weird and then something made me pick it up again. It's a very strange tale told in a very unusual way, with illustrations that didn't add much, imo, until the gaspifering end. And yes, the author is marvelously fond of combining words in quirky and extremely charming ways.

My only qualm with the book, which isn't enough of a qualm to even mark it down one star, is the confusing use of color
Ambre Lee
I performed a read aloud to my husband on the 405 on our way to ThinkSpace-who interrupted me rudely with-what a pretentious (insert offensive but fun expletive)-I overrode his insertion with loudness and dramatics-trying to envision the puppet show enactment of the story. Is it-I asked he-so horrible to listen to as it is to read? It is-said he- abhorrent.
As it were, the 405 was terribly backed-up and we had no other means of entertainment. I tried ploughing through more pages-read with intensi
I'm not sure I actually read this book.
It would be more accurate to say that I interacted with this book.

Danielewski's "novel" seems to piece together some of my favorite literary conventions to create a harrowing story of myth and destruction: it starts out with stream-of-consciousness profiles of our heroine, Chintana, and the atmosphere of a party a la Mrs. Dalloway; it then transitions into a mythic-gothic-badass adventure for a sword to match a storyteller's black heart. And then, it gets
Oh dear. I wanted to like this book, I really did. I had a great time reading House of Leaves and I thought the way Danielewski played with the format of the book was pretty effective. Alas, The Fifty Year Sword just wasn't nearly as good.

Let's start with the plot. House of Leaves had, at heart, a very interesting idea for a plot, and Danielewski used it to great effect. This, on the other hand, is a really a very short ghost story. Sure, he says as much at the beginning. But if it weren't for t
Cymru Roberts
After House of Leaves, I will give any MZD book a try. 50YS didn't disappoint. Like a gothic E.E. Cummings, Danielewski spins the yarn of a spooky visitor on Halloween night. Like HOL, the intertwining tales spiral deeper and deeper, replicating each other and jumping from the page with marvelous inventiveness.

I enjoyed reading the story as a poem, and the physical syncopation and the strange illustrations (or "sewings") really brought me into the world. Before I was really sure what was going
I've read both the hardcover and the iBooks version of The Fifty Year Sword. The iBooks version contains animation, music and sound effects (the kindle version, apparently, does not). Generally, I would consider this a gimmick, but in the case of this particular book, it worked. The music and sound added to the atmosphere immensely, and the animations were interesting.

This is a short read (took me less than an hour), but well worth my time. I won't reveal anything in this review. There's a stor
Someone needs to remind me that either Danielewski is just a terrible author or he's just so amazing I don't get it.
As an OG who read HOL years ago and still have not received my t shirt that says "I survived House of Leaves", I picked up the Fifty Year Sword with zero intention of reading it. I was drawn to the holes in the cover. Flipping through, I saw how short it was and thought: how bad could it be?
Other reviewers have done a great job of listing what is different about this story, so I wont get into it. Personally, I thought the book jacket copy was way cooler than the story itself. A sword that kil
There's no good way to summarize a book by Mark Z. Danielewski, as anyone who's read House of Leaves or Only Revolutions can attest. As dependent on the visual presentation of the text as the narrative itself, his books have to be experienced to really appreciate them. So I can say this is a short, creepy book about an ominous story teller and the titular weapon, but the truth is you have to actually pick up the book to see how Danielewski has experimented with text type (embedding different col ...more
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Mark Z. Danielewski is an American author. He is the son of Polish avant-garde film director Tad Danielewski and the brother of singer and songwriter Annie Decatur Danielewski, a.k.a. Poe.

Danielewski studied English Literature at Yale. He then decided to move to Berkeley, California, where he took a summer program in Latin at the University of California, Berkeley. He also spent time in Paris, pre
More about Mark Z. Danielewski...
House of Leaves Only Revolutions The Whalestoe Letters The Familiar: One Rainy Day in May We Dropped a Bomb on You: The Best of Slake I-IV

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