Archive by Author | mdaly6

Seriality explained

I found this article from the L.A. Times to be helpful in discovering more about seriality. The author uses “NCIS” as an example against a serial and explains the negative effects of this type of television show {which can also apply to literature).  The article talks about the successes of “NCIS” coming from the fact that the series “has bucked TV’s trend toward serialized storytelling, which, though popular with hard-core fans and many critics, requires more dedication from viewers and has almost certainly tamped down ratings for many shows.”  I found this interesting because, although true that serials require more attention and dedication, I think viewers (and readers) are willing to put in that time.  Shows like “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards” are wildly popular, even though they ask a lot of their fans when it comes to paying attention and making connections.  I disagree with this article, and maybe even the fact that the show steers away from serial elements – it goes through many characters, has varying plot and comes with surprises, all elements of a serial.  I think that seriality will only become more popular due to the interest of viewers, listeners or readers and the fact that media has become so easy to share and spread quickly.  Our world lends itself perfectly to this type of literature (if it can be called that) because of tools like social media and blogs.

Here’s the article, hopefully it helps a bit to understand more about the serial in our contemporary culture and to predict what will eventually happen with the release of The Familiar!


Labels and Genre

Obviously, as we have all seen by now, this book is tough to fit into any type of “box” or label. Although I know it is experimental fiction, I have been trying to at least connect it to one type of genre in order to comprehend its meaning, but so far I have not been able to narrow it down to just one.  I originally thought each sub-story could at least be labeled as a certain genre: i.e., Xanther’s as a fairly classic narrative, The Orb as some sort of science fiction, Narcon as something similarly scientific/computer-based…but now I am doubting myself once again. Xanther’s section seems to have taken a turn for the supernatural, fantastical genre. Are we supposed to believe that the big rainstorm, involving Xanther getting lost in the flood and returning to the car, actually happened that way? Or was it more a dream-like state, made of the imagination? Then, the next chapter to follow is the infamous Narcon chapter…something I have honestly never seen anything like in any other type of novel. Presumably the book itself is talking – Danielewski? Some far-off, alien creature? A computer? – this section struck me more as sci-fi, with its computer language and coding. What frustrates me the most right now is that I have come this far along in this captivating novel (if it can even be called a novel) and have yet to come up with a way to organize it within the context of other texts. It is frustrating how much of a range there is in its content. Maybe once the connections between story lines start becoming more clarified this will change…in the meantime, I guess I should just keep reading to find out!

Language and Confusion

As someone who is very interested in languages, having become (basically) fluent in French and hoping to move on to Italian in the near future, I find myself frustrated and confused with the use of different languages in The Familiar. I was shocked to discover my negative reaction to his use of various languages within the lines of English; usually this is something I would enjoy seeing, something that allows me to jump outside my comfort zone and research to deepen my understanding. However, I feel quite the opposite in this situation. I become irritated and annoyed whenever I come upon foreign characters, wishing there was a translation handed to me immediately so I could understand the text at that moment. I think this is due to the nature of the book; it is a quick read, something I can knock out 200 pages of in a short amount of time, so I am not prepared to stop and put the book down to look something up. Further, this is not the only part that is confusing to me. Nearly every “chapter” contains some sort of reference or image that is unclear, so I had hoped that the language elements would be easy for me (if only they were in French instead of Chinese and Russian). There are a couple of examples of French, but nothing that makes me feel like my language skills are useful.

Confusion has been an overarching sentiment for me throughout the readings, and it has only led to frustration. I enjoy the story, mainly though only that of Xanther, Anwar and Astair, because the rest leads to confusion and disruption to my smooth reading. I am wondering if other readers believe it is necessary to stay confused throughout or if we should all be taking the time to understand every Chinese symbol, every coded message and every Russian phrase to fully “get” the story.

I am hopeful at this point that sometime in the near future the ends will be tied and the stories will intertwine, but what if the clue is within the foreign languages? I am curious about how much they contribute to the book as a whole, since they are so disruptive (at least to me) and cause so much confusion and frustration.