I was looking through my bookshelf the other day and brought down Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski to reread. This time I wanted to give it a really in-depth read too. If anyone out there has read this book, it is a literal never ending story. The book has two covers, one on each side, and when the story begins, the right side up text takes up more of the page and beneath it, is upside text for the story told from the other side of the book. Where one story begins, it is the ending of the other story and when you get to the end, you just flip the book over and start again.
According to the Wikipedia entry, the book is about: “Sam and Hailey, and Hailey and Sam, wild and wayward teenagers who never grow old. With an evolving stable of cars, the teenagers move through various places and moments in time as they try to outrace history.”
I have read it a couple times before and had read it eight pages one way and flipped it the other way for eight pages, which is recommended by the author according to the dust jacket. A few years ago I went to see the author on a book tour and when he read it, he read the top portion and then flipped the book over to read the bottom. You see, although the beginning of her story is also the end of his and vice versa, it is also an echo, even before they “meet”. This was an incredibly romantic idea to me. I read her portion where she comments in stream of consciousness and when I flip it over and read his lines, it becomes obvious that he was always there. Even before she was aware of him.
So I was spending my lunch break starting with Hailey’s side contemplating the top text in relation to the bottom. I only read eight pages in before flipping the book over and starting on Sam’s side and heard echos of her narrative. I didn’t get far that day, but I did get someone else curious about the book. Mostly, in a day and age when ereaders are common and convenient and people can read on ipods and phones, well, how quaint was it that I was carrying an actual book? Of course, anyone who has read Danielewski’s books realize that something may be lost in a translation to digital formatting. I was showing the pages and trying to explain that this is love story about two teenagers who are “allways sixteen”. It was easier to hand her the book and have her read the page, first the top and then the bottom.
The conversation got me thinking though. I have normally been drawn to more unconventional love stories. Has anyone read “The Eternal Enemy” I had listed a few blogs back? It was a love story about a teenage girl that involved cyborgs and time travel. Even as I got older certain things stuck with me more than others; the sacrifice in “A Tale of Two Cities”, the prince in “The Last Unicorn”, all of “Legend”. I remembered that the love story in “28 Days Later” seemed very organic to me, especially in comparison with other movies that may force two leads to make out because he’s a guy and she’s a girl and they’re in an intense situation… and no chemistry. I never got into movies like “The Notebook” or “Sleepless in Seattle” and I didn’t even know that “Steel Magnolias” was a love story until recently. For some reason, I thought it was about a group of friends getting their hair done and one having diabetes or something. Lela can vouch for my arguments against traditional RomComs in our younger years.
So what did I end up gravitating to? Off the top of my head, “Amelie”, “Penelope”, “I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK”, “Secretary”, “Lars and the Real Girl, and “Love Me If You Dare”. I’m sure if I thought about it longer then I would have more. Some people may argue that any of the above may be a conventional love story, but it seems that the theme in all of them is a love story on their own terms. Amelie was painfully shy, Penelope was born with the nose of a pig, Young-goon was convinced she was a cyborg and locked in a mental institution, Lee was a secret cutter, Lars couldn’t bear to be touched by people and both of the lead characters in the last film were destructive on a level on par with “Wuthering Heights”. At the end of the all though were happy endings, albeit happy for them, because their love interest accepted them for who they were, flaws and all and they made something work for them.
Amazingly enough, after reading that list, I realise that am in a totally normal relationship. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching though, I wanted to post some movie lists that touted some of the most unconventional stories (unanimously, they all include “Harold and Maude”).
http://community.flixster.com/movie-list/10-great-unconventional-love-stories (I have to admit a soft spot for “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”
http://www.eurotv.us/top-10/top-10-most-awesome-movies-with-unconventional-love-story (this mentions “Crash” but posted the wrong picture making me double take”
http://my.spill.com/profiles/blogs/valentines-day-unconventional?xg_source=activity (I like this list, it mentions “Wall-e” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
http://secretlabyrinths.blogspot.com/2010/03/big-fish.html (This is my favorite here, as it lists tons of movies, her reactions and screencaps)
Everyone should go over to http://www.onlyrevolutions.com/ to hear a reading from “Only Revolutions”.
“because without her, I am only revolutions of ruin”