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Only Revolutions

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  4,118 ratings  ·  445 reviews
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
Paperback, 360 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Pantheon (first published September 12th 2006)
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Holy Bible by AnonymousNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiFear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Weirdest Books Ever
230th out of 420 books — 547 voters
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiPale Fire by Vladimir NabokovCloud Atlas by David MitchellSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
124th out of 232 books — 214 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Nov 19, 2015 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as partial-credit  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-gelesen
Alright. That's enough. Page 113 (from each end). Were I to finish it, it would be merely pro forma.

So but anyway. If you're even in the least bit curious about his book, this object of the book designers' trade, probably not so much the novelists' trade(?), then my own very personal suggestion would be that ; lieber to be curious about either Larva: A Midsummer Night's Babel or Zettels Traum. Seriously.

On the other hand, all best wishes to those who've made Only Revolutiions a meaningful work
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..."


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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
An epic poem, told from the point of view of two people, with lots of annotation 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 pag ...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
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
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
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
Generally when reviewing books with a unique structure, I try not to dwell on that structure, in order to get to the meat of the book. In this case, though, the structure is the meat. Mostly, at least. If you don't enjoy the curiousness of this book and can't see its value as a unique object in itself, it's unlikely that the content of the text will win you over. In other words, if you don't buy into the gimmick, you're not going to like the book. So in this case, I'm going to get the content ou ...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
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
House of Leaves was and still is one of my favorite books when I read it around ten years ago. The House was my introduction to postmodernism, metafiction and ergodic literature; and while it took me an embarrasingly long time to make even a sliver of sense of that behemoth, I still fondly remember countless summer days spent with Johnny Truant, Zampanò and Will Navidson.

I read The Fifty Year Sword in 2013 - still in love with Danielewski's concepts, even if the quintiphonic ghost-story itself w
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
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
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
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
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
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
Oh, God. This book.
It's not a 3, it's a 1 and a 5 at once. It's brilliantly conceived, wonderfully executed, covering a depth and breadth of...I don't know what only made possible by the advent of the internet.
And I kinda hated it.
I mentioned by Danielewski's other book that whether you love or hate House of Leaves depends on how much you accept the gimmick.
I couldn't this time around. I just could get beyond the gimmick.
In terms of discussion and wonder and exploration, this is a great book to
2.5 stars.

When I first started writing a review of Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions, I focused on my problem with artistic experimentation. I opened with a quote from Patton Oswalt, asserted that I have no inherent problem with artists who experiment, and began to tell a rambling story of my recent visit to Los Angeles’ Getty Museum. If I’d bothered to finish it, I probably would’ve worked in references to Pulp Fiction and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, made snarky comments about J
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Mark Z. Danielewski is an American author best known for his books House of Leaves, Only Revolutions, The Fifty Year Sword, and The Familiar series.

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, preoccupied mostly with writing.

In the ear
More about Mark Z. Danielewski...

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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...”
“I will walk heavy, and I will walk strange.” 39 likes
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