The Familiar: Volume 1
I really don’t know if I like this book. I’m really leaning towards really liking it. I want to love it.
This is a concept book about May 10, 2014, rainy day (although no rain fell on that day in Los Angeles where a bulk of this book is set.) The main story is about a 12-year old girl Xanther who has seizures and is going to get an Akita puppy with her stepfather. There is also a story involving a gang member in East LA, a EDM-phile in Singapore, some folks in Texas, Mexico and other arcs which do seem disposable. Here are some pros and cons about this volume.
+ The Xanther story. I call it the main story since most of the pages are devoted to her, and it is well written. You get the insecurities of her mom Astair, stepfather Anwar, all of it.
– The bulk of the book is dreadful. There are some 880 pages or so, but because of the layout, text art and what not it is more like a 300-page book.
– There are many characters in this book that don’t intersect, and some of these folks are not fully explored and thus you don’t really care about them.
+- There is a lot of dialect used. Some of it works. I think I’m one of the few people who liked the Singlish (as you can see above). But there is an Armenian taxi driver character which was pretty bad. The East LA gang member was also pretty bad.
+ Text as art. Danielewski is a master in this, and he’s not afraid to show it.
Mark Danielewski has 27 volumes of this planned with the second volume due out in October. Maybe some of these folks will get more attention in the next volume. But it definitely has me intrigued.