The Familiar

The Familiar

1, One Rainy Day in May

eBook - 2015
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From the universally acclaimed, genre-busting author of House of Leaves comes a new book as dazzling as it is riveting . . . A page-turner from start to finish, ranging from Southeast Asia to Mexico to Venice, Italy, and Venice, California, with characters as diverse as a therapist-in-training whose daughters prove far more complex than her patients, an ambitious East-L.A. gang member hired for violence, two scientists on the run in Marfa, Texas, a recovering addict in Singapore summoned by a powerful but desperate billionaire, a programmer near Silicon Beach whose game engine just might augur far more than he suspects, and at the very heart a 12-year-old girl who one rainy day in May sets out from Echo Park to get a dog only to find something else . . . something that will not only alter her life but threaten the world we all think we know and the future we take for granted.
Publisher: New York : Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015
Edition: First edition
Branch Call Number: EBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Jun 27, 2018

This is a fascinating hybrid of the "graphic novel" (though with few pictures!) and the conventional novel. It's also a re-enactment of James Joyce's "Ulysses", where events of a single, seemingly ordinary day take on mythic significance. Varying typefaces represent the voices of various characters, though most is told in a stream of consciousness of their thoughts. The main story is of a twelve-year old girl with epilepsy and dyslexia, who goes with her family to buy a dog, but winds up rescuing a cat instead. Yes, that's the entirety of the main plot, but wrapped around it are diverse narratives in different parts of the world. There are a projected 27 volumes in this set (and I don't intend to read all of them to find out how all these sub-plots fit together). However, there are clues: some of the characters seem to know each other (even in different countries); it's raining everywhere the stories take place on this one day; everybody hears the cat yowl; and there are (computerized) aliens (?) from the end of time watching and commenting on the action (though only the reader knows about them). Some of the accents, rendered phonetically and with idiosyncratic punctuation (including streams of parenthesis (for streams of (disorganized) consciousness (like this))) , are difficult to read (unless one reads them out loud (another James Joyce-ism)). Genre-busting and fun. My guess is that the cat is the "familiar" of the title, so it has a scarier part to play than is expected at first (too many people hear it in too many places for it to be an ordinary cat!). It's probably somehow connected to the aliens, though that of course will be revealed in one of the later books that I probably won't read (at least yet).

An inventive, typographically innovative novel that pushed the boundaries of what reading can be and what a book can become.

Jun 01, 2015

I enjoyed House of Leaves. I couldn't get through Only Revolutions. I enjoyed this book despite there being a lot of literary "slight of hand" in it with different fonts, graphics, and pages formats throughout. However the intertwining narratives were enough to keep me interested. I hear the author wants to create 29 volumes of this series. I don't know if I'll read them all but I will try. If you haven't read Danielewski I would start with House of Leaves to get an idea of his style. I would skip Only Revolutions, and go straight to this series. The next volume comes out in October.


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