Time and Reading
I, like so many, am fascinated by the time stamps in the novel and wonder about their purpose(s). Certainly, they allow us to understand the chronological relationship of the varying narratives that we are introduced to. However, I wonder to what degree these time stamps are part of Danielewski’s attempt to control/guide our reading experience in the way he does in say House of Leaves (the only other novel of his I’ve read). In that novel, we have to explore its various features in somewhat the same way the house is explored. In fact, the worst possible way to read that novel, it seems to me, would be just to open on page 1 and then keep turning pages. The letters at the the end of the novel, the various artifacts and evidence, etc. are really necessary to help understand the main narratives as you read. So in that novel, Danielweski basically tells us, “Snoop around in whatever manner you see fit just like my characters are doing.” The Familiar, in contrast, pushes us more linearly. We are always conscious of the clock, if you will, and it seems as if, instead of asking us to roam around, he is asking us to experience the novel in real time, in the way that his characters do. I would be curious to know what people think of the degree to which Danielewski is trying to get us to read/experience this novel a certain way temporally, and to what end (based on the limited information we have thus far)? To what degree does our knowing that we are only getting one day change/influence our reading experience, especially when we know that are so many more volumes coming and thus we won’t be getting resolutions? I can’t help but think back to that opening narrator who seems to announce the end of one time and the beginning of another coupled with the seeming countdown of one person’s life. So much time. What does it all mean?