The Resource The fifty year sword, Mark Z. Danielewski

The fifty year sword, Mark Z. Danielewski

Label
The fifty year sword
Title
The fifty year sword
Statement of responsibility
Mark Z. Danielewski
Title variation
50 year sword
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • This first American edition of Danielewski’s novella, published in a different form in the Netherlands in 2005, has the theatrical quality of a children’s ghost story, complete with stitched-art illustrations (designed by the author), sweeping themes, and fairy-tale tropes. But the tale told by the Story Teller, hired to entertain the children, is nested in the all-too adult story of Chintana, a seamstress suffering through the aftermath of a painful divorce. The smallest daily rituals—opening a can of “bitter tea leaves,” putting on shoes—require terrific force, and she has visions of inflicting violence. At her twin’s urging, Chintana attends a Halloween party at an East Texas ranch, where she comes face-to-face with the source of her marriage’s destruction and discovers the Story Teller’s thirst for revenge. Danielewski (House of Leaves) knows that typographical landscaping can be a narrative tool. With rare exception, he unfurls his tale down one side of the page in quoted speech of different colors representing five orphans whose obscure connection is hinted at in an author’s note; text is juxtaposed or shares space with illustrations. Tension builds visually; some scenes slows to a sentence per page (a trick the author’s fans will recognize), vertically tearing the white space (readers resistant to textual hijinks may be frustrated). More of a narrative poem than a novella, this would be well suited to an oral reading and may be best thought of as an objet d’art that chillingly holds us accountable for our worst thoughts. Illus. Agent: WME Entertainment. (Oct.) --Staff (Reviewed August 27, 2012) (Publishers Weekly, vol 259, issue 35, p)
  • In this brief, dark tale, Chintana attends a Halloween party where she encounters Belinda Kite, the woman who stole her husband, as well as five orphans. A mysterious stranger arrives carrying a box and tells a story about his travels around the world in search of a special weapon. The journey takes the teller through haunted regions until he finds a weapons dealer with an unusual set of swords. Some are capable of killing the sense of smell or taste, others certain colors, and still others take lives. The narrator is sold a sword in exchange for a memory, and when he concludes his story, the five children open the box he has brought. Chintana senses the children are in danger, but then her nemesis, Belinda, intervenes. VERDICT Absorbing, spooky, and playful, with copious illustrations but minimalist text, the narrative consists of a series of quotations from five narrators whose history is given in an ominous prelude that may or may not explain just what is going on. Shorter than the author's other two novels (House of Leaves; Only Revolutions ), this new work offers a less demanding introduction to his unusual literary creations. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/12.]— Jim Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. --Jim Coan (Reviewed October 1, 2012) (Library Journal, vol 137, issue 16, p66)
  • A sometimes arid, sometimes entertaining ghost story for grown-ups by pomo laureate Danielewski (House of Leaves, 2000, etc.). Chintana is in a bad mood. A talented seamstress, she's just been divorced, "forced/to acknowledge,/yet again,/to yet/another insitrusive customer,/her husband Pravat's surprising/departure." The odd portmanteau "insitrusive," apparently a blend of "insistent" and "intrusive," is emblematic; Danielewski likes nothing better than to make up words, with some coinages better than others. (The world flat-out does not need the verb "reconsiderate.") The odd hiccup-y breaks and caesuras also attest to Danielewski's method, which is to break what ought to be prose down into a sort-of-poetry--not terribly good poetry, that, and oddly punctuated, but still inhibiting a reader tempted to skim and speed. Chintana is stuck in East Texas, that grim place of horrors, her time spent in a house that has had more than one spectral guest in the past. Here, as with House of Leaves, Danielewski distinguishes speakers with quotation marks of different colors; even there, the jumble of words, matched by fugitive images, lends itself to a certain confusion, the printed effect of listening too closely to the dialogue of Robert Altman's Popeye. The story, as it is, has its charms, including the implement of the title, a very dangerous weapon that is powerless to produce a visible wound until its recipient turns 50: "Just as/quickly too he slid behind/me and I/felt a sting between/my shoulder blades/and then a fire and a cold and a sudden/something/seep of hurt." The spectral events and unspectral revelations that follow are sure not to improve Chintana's mood. After all, she's already feeling "desacreated." Like House of Leaves, likely destined to become a cult favorite. Harmless fun for those who aren't fans already.(Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2012)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10145236
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Danielewski, Mark Z
Dewey number
813/.54
Illustrations
illustrations
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Orphans
  • Children
  • Revenge
  • Suspense fiction
  • Texas, East
Label
The fifty year sword, Mark Z. Danielewski
Instantiates
Publication
Dimensions
24 cm.
Extent
285 p.
Isbn
9780307907721
Isbn Type
(hbk.)
Other physical details
ill. (some col.)
System control number
(Sirsi) i9780307907721
Label
The fifty year sword, Mark Z. Danielewski
Publication
Dimensions
24 cm.
Extent
285 p.
Isbn
9780307907721
Isbn Type
(hbk.)
Other physical details
ill. (some col.)
System control number
(Sirsi) i9780307907721

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