Only Revolutions
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Only Revolutions

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3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  3,480 ratings  ·  400 reviews
Sam:
They were with us before Romeo & Juliet. And long after too. Because they’re forever around. Or so both claim, carolling gleefully:

We’re allways sixteen.

Sam & Hailey, powered by an ever-rotating fleet of cars, from Model T to Lincoln Continental, career from the Civil War to the Cold War, barrelling down through the Appalachians, up the Mississippi River, acros...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Pantheon (first published September 12th 2006)
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Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam
Sep 08, 2007 Adam rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pre-teen boys desperate to feel like they're deep
This book was like a cross between Da Vinci Code and something by Palahniuk. And I mean that in the most insulting way possible.

The summaries and reviews I read before getting the book had all focused on how it's the same story about two people told from each of their perspectives. Therefore, I hoped going in that it would have some interesting and thought-provoking juxtapositions.

There were no interesting juxtapositions. When reading one character's take on a situation, the question was not in...more
Sean
Howdy there, O happy reader!
It is of the utmost
and most sincerest importance
that you understand
what kind of adventure
you will bestow upon your self
by undertaking and reaping
the novel that HOUSE OF LEAVES'
very own Mark Z. Danielewski has sown.

Sam and Hailey and Hailey and Sam
are two star-crossed lovers
driving across America and
through time as their love
blossoms and grows and yet
so do the country and times
they invade most irreparably.

It is the ambition and the bravery
that makes this labyrinthian p...more
Michael
I have learned that something can be structurally interesting and yet completely unappealing. I read about 24 pages each direction before I realised that reading more would be a chore and not worth my time.
Stevie
I dont mind working to read a book. I loved "House of Leaves" and I dont mind being a bit 'lost' in a book - Umberto Eco's "Focault's Pendulum" was a truly difficult read that required work to read and research to fully comprehend. But this one... lost me WAY before it could hook me.

I don't mind the gimmick, really. "House of Leaves" was gimmicky - but it had a great story, an interesting story, a story that sucked you in and kept you reading, and turning, and looking, and puzzling. "Only Revol...more
h
reread: may 14, 2011-

(1/1/07): the best book i've read in a while is now out in paperback and as an audio book and mzd has announced his fall tour. what better time to update my review of this gorgeous, personal, political work? plus, who doesn't love a book that so prominently features american cars and asks to be read like a steering wheel?

only revolutions succeeds at a nigh-impossible feat: it is a modern epic poem. it is a novel. a love story. a history. a myth. it is lewis carroll, jack ker...more
Matthew
Oh, what a gimmick! Two stories, sharing the page, meeting at page 180, and continuing on to page 360 where the ending of each story is also the beginning of the next. If you follow the publisher's recommendation, you'll turn the book over every eight pages to weave the two stories together. There's different colored ink, puns and riffs that would make Joyce jealous, and a list of dates in the sidebar that serves as a kind of Cliff's Notes of American History. It's all very exciting and exhausti...more
Michael Alexander
I think I'm one of very few people actually set up to love this book. Obtuse pointless internal rhymes, a romp through history for some vague reason hanging on the Kennedy assassination as fulcrum, an obsessive parallelism as metaphor for love, a total overstuffing of reference as a way of talking about Americanness, and a bunch of Finnegans Wake references--yes, this is one of those things where taste is defined by what kinds of silliness you'll tolerate.

But for me, anyway, it's like reading a...more
Amber
Dec 21, 2007 Amber rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with ritalin handy
I really wanted to like this book as I LOVED House of Leaves, and furthermore, I wanted to be the elitist one that could espouse, "ohhhh, you didn't like it??? well, it was a difficult boooook..."

but

I just didn't like it. I mean, I get the concept. I get the format, I get the epic quality.... but I think the entire thing could have been done in half the length with twice the impact. After a while the "flip the book" gimmick because almost unbearable as I would get distracted and forget in which...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
So now but since I've read that !@#$%^&* Fifty Year Sword I understand why this little volume might be as vacuous as the disappointed-because-not-HOUSE-OF-LEAVES-PART-II Reviews say it is. I'm still up for it. But Mr Z said "Derrida" just too many times at his reading for me to believe that he understands enough Derrida to make a Derrididian novel.

"Derrida is not an excuse." -- Nathan "N.R."
Paul
Jan 04, 2009 Paul added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Zero stars. That's right. Zero of them. This is the worst book I've ever read. It was appallingly bad. Again, it was the worst book I have ever read.

Here's my longer review of it:


Writing by Numbers:
Mark Danielewski’s Only Revolutions

The age-old love-struck teenaged social pariah theme gets a new spin in Only Revolutions, Mark Z. Danielewski’s latest meretricious undertaking. Told by two sixteen-year-olds, Hailey and Sam, the book begins from both ends, “allowing” the reader to flip it over every...more
Alex V.
I think a lot of people pick up Finnegan's Wake and fall in love with the perverse but precise architecture of that book and figure, "shit, I can do that."

Well, they can't.

I positively adore Danielewski's House of Leaves equally for its compelling structure and the stories stretched up on those frames, but this one is all stretcher and no canvas. It's a he-said she said, both stories glind through the book, upside down from each other. The letter O appears in green everywhere in the book. The fo...more
M
An epic poem, told from the point of view of two people, with lots of footnotes and other Danielewski tricks anyone who read the interesting, if flawed, 'House of Leaves' will be familiar with. When I read this book I felt like it would probably be good for me to finish it, like eating Cheerios or Wheaties, but that's not why I read books (as a general rule). It's also supposed to be read 10 pages at a time, from each protagonist's point of view, and that definitely got annoying after about page...more
Colin
Apr 30, 2010 Colin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seriously literate people who enjoy a challenge, or people who cherish odd books
Shelves: four-star
Make no mistake about it--this book is *not* for everyone. Even those who managed to conquer Danielewski's House of Leaves (or at least finish it--conquering it is perhaps another matter altogether), may find themselves ultimately beaten or annoyed by Only Revolutions. Taking structural formalism to an extreme, Danielewski weaves the story of two seemingly immortal and un-aging sixteen year old kids, Hailey and Sam, as they trek across the United States on the run from the enigmatic character Th...more
Erin Beck
I’m on the bus for 2 hours a day. It’s where I do all of my reading. It’s like being in the bathroom and reading the back of shampoo bottles – Almost anything is better than just looking out the window – But not this book.

I really wanted to like Only Revolutions. I thought the idea was great. The same story told from the male and female perspective. You read 8 pages of the male side then flip the book over and read 8 pages of the female side.

But I thought I would be reading prose - not an epic...more
Brendan
This read like a dream. It was confusing, then clear and then confusing again. The story seemed to inch, jut, and leap forward, and then with a flip of the book an instant replay revealed a different perspective.

I loved Danielewski's use of two voices to tell a story. His understanding of the two main characters and their insatiable need for each other showcased the madness of love in a remarkable form of suggestion, saturation and passion.

I was often confused and amazed by the intricacies, la...more
J
An incredible reading experience that works more as a novelistic slam poem than a typical novel. Danielewski creates two timeless characters whose youth never dies as their love continues to grow. Written in perfect rhythm and pace, reading the book outloud adds to the experience. The movements of the words and the power of Danielewski's language could be dampened by just looking at the book and letting it work interiorly. However, by saying the words, the story is brought to life even more to l...more
Nate D
America, its history, its ideals, as quadraphonic epic poetry. Extremely ambitious and probably brilliant, but I'm not exactly up to the task of determining this for myself. The one real complaint I feel fairly up to making is that unlike, say, Pynchon, where the references echo, riff off of, and bolster the content, here there virtually is no content outside the references. I'm not even convinced that all the references refer to anything at all. The design, however, is utterly gorgeous.

Or maybe...more
Rachel Chamberlain
This book is somewhat irksome...not for reasons pertaining to its "prosetry," rotating, double reading, etc; but because I really want to like this book, but can't quite bring myself to give it a sterling review. I liked the themes, and the concept -- tying together American history with flora and fauna with rebellion, youth, travelling cross country, sex, minorities, love, written to show how these things revolve around each other, work upon each other, and are even ingrained within not only th...more
Darrell
After Danielewski's first novel House of Leaves, my expectations were high for Only Revolutions. Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed.

The book is about two young lovers, Sam and Hailey, who each tell their own side of the story (you flip the book upside down to switch between their viewpoints.) Their story takes the form of a poem, with arbitrary line breaks and indentation, puns, inconsistent rhyme, alliteration, intentionally misspelled words, made-up words, and so forth.

It's an interest...more
Edward Rathke
Everyone lauds House of Leaves, as they should, but Only Revolutions seems to be always overlooked are castigated for its difficulty.

It is a difficult book and part of its difficulty is that one must learn to read it, which is no easy task as the only instructions are to start at both ends and work inward and on past to the opposite covers, alternatingly. I was ready to give up after about sixty pages, but, for some reason, didn't. Maybe it was the delight of the prose, fanciful and poetic, titt...more
Zach
Amazing concept, fantastic presentation, but in the end it feels more like the sketch of a great idea. I think that Danielewski bit off more than he could chew here. What could have been a simple and exquisite love story tries to hard to become a metaphor for all of time and all of mankind.
Hadrian
Not nearly as impressive as House of Leaves. Some neat ideas, but most were gimmicky. I may try to tackle this again later.
Juan Herrera
Being a big House of Leaves fan, I was really excited to see how the rest of Danielewski's work would be like. Despite some stuff that could of course be called gimmicky (not that I feel that way about it, mind you), House of Leaves has a great plot that sucks you in, memorable characters and the whole book-reader interaction is really well done. The way immersion is handled by playing/experimenting with page layouts is of course worth mentioning as well. It quickly became a favorite of mine.

So...more
Kerry
5 stars for exploring the physical form of a "book" but only 1 star for plot, character, dialogue.

Physical form: The impressive layout and design drew me to give this book a try. Every physical element of this book has been designed - there is nothing arbitrary. Two front covers; no back cover. A gorgeous, detailed photograph on the cover underlying the dust jacket. Themed-color ribbon bookmarks. Shrinking typefaces as the story progresses, implying to me gathering speed. Sidebars providing hist...more
Jill
Exactly halfway through this book, my opinion of it changed completely.


Up to that point, I wasn't enjoying it. I was tired, as I am always tired, of arrogant adolescents getting into misadventures, scampering about having sex and consuming exorbitant amounts of drugs (aside: when you teach high school, glamorous nostalgia for the teenage years kinda loses ANY AND ALL power). I was irritated with the writing style -- choppy sentences and constant references to wildlife (what? I still don't get th...more
Susan
Clever in concept; awful in execution. The characters are as thin as the gimmicks are thick. Revolvings devolve into revolting. Only Revolutions can't really make up its mind what it is -- bad fiction or bad poetry -- circling tediously from cartoon to pornography to B-movie dialogue to quest narrative (though what is sought is never made clear and I use "narrative" losely), to alternative and parallel worlds. The idea of a book that can be read in both directions has potential and the flip-book...more
Jeeyun
this is one of those books that i desperately wanted to love. i wanted to praise it and find it a place deep in my heart, but at the end of the day... it's like the middle child of the brood, you know? sorry honey, you're just not my favorite kid. mommy doesn't love you. one of these days you were going to grow up and find out so why not just own up now. (oh, that and you're adopted.)

No but seriously. it's wonderful in concept: some sort of elliptical, intertwining he-said/she-said love story ta...more
Ironman Ninetytwo
An interesting but ultimately failed experiment. The text has a high degree of symmetry, with the same story told twice, once along the top of the page, and once along the bottom, backwards. The stories are quite similar but not identical because they are different perceptions. Each page's top and bottom contains a symmetrical reference. The text of both stories starts big but shrinks. In the margins there are historical facts from a time period that is centered on the Kennedy assassination, and...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Reading this book was like an acid trip, or being schizophrenic. It is the story of two 16 year olds, Sam and Hailey. They are timeless, and they are on a road trip, and they are in love. It is written in some type of... prose? I don't know what to call it. It's not like a regular story. The stories start from opposite sides of the book, and you read 8 pages of a time, then flip it, then read 8 pages, then flip it. Each pair of 8 pages retells the same story. I noticed some parts of the story th...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
More about Mark Z. Danielewski...
House of Leaves The Fifty Year Sword The Whalestoe Letters We Dropped a Bomb on You: The Best of Slake I-IV The Poetics of Space

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“We're the unmended, the untended,
cold soldiers of the shoe. We're the neglected,
the never resurrected, agonies of the few.
We're the once kissed, unmissed and always
refused. Because we're the unfinished
and feared and we're never pursued.

And just that easily, on my behalf,
I come around. Because I'm burning.
The beast of War feeds only on the meats of War.
And now I'm for carnage.
Here's how my anguish frees.
Destroy everyone of course. Because I'm unwanted
and unsafe. And I'll take tears away with torments and rape,
killings and fears not even the dead will escape.
Encircling the Guilty, Ashamed, Blameless and
Enslaved. Absolved. Butchering their prejudice.

Patience. Their Value. Because I'm without value.
I'm the coming of every holocaust. Turning no lost.
Rending tissue, sinew and bone. Excepting no suffering.
By me all levees will break. All silos heave.
I will walk heavy.
And I will walk strange.

Because I am too soon.
Because without Her, I am only revolutions
Of ruin.

Because I am too soon.
Because without You, I am only revolutions
Of ruin.

I'm the prophecy prophecies pass.
Why need dies at last.
How oceans dry. Islands drown.
And skies of salt crash to the ground.
I turn the powerful. Defy the weak.
Only grass grows down abandoned streets.

For a greater economy shall follow Us
and it will be undone.
And a greater autonomy shall follow Us
and it too will be undone.
And a greater feeling shall follow Love
and it too we will blow to dust.
For I am longings without trust. The cycloidal haste
freedom from Hailey forever wastes.
Dust cares for only dust.
And time only for Us.

Because I am too soon.
Because without Her, I am only revolutions
Of ruin.

Because I am too soon.
Because without You, I am only revolutions
Of ruin.

We are always sixteen...”
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“I will walk heavy, and I will walk strange.” 32 likes
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