As I began reading this book, eight pages per narrative, I attempted to read it like a normal novel – understanding every sentence and each word within it. As I slowly got through the first couple “chapters” trying to make sense of everything, I realized this is not the way I would be able to read this book.
As Austin pointed out, Danielewski uses a variety of uncommon words in his text including compilations of words (“everywherethereandhere’s” p.S36), words with repeated letters (“screeeaaaaams” p.H19), and words spelled differently than usual (“Them’re” p.H29). The frequent presence of these unique text make this novel an interesting read, but what’s equally interesting/challenging is the absence of many extremely common words. The following link provides a list of some words missing from Only Revolutions that most often appear in writing. I believe the absence of some of these common words is another reason this novel is not read in a typical manner.
I soon realized that I would never get through this book by trying to understand each line as it was written, so I turned to reading it quickly an rhythmically and not focusing on any one concept too much. I also found that comparing the eight-page sections to one another, I was able to better understand what was happening in the story line (aside from the obvious contradictions in the narratives).
I began to pick up on several similarities and differences between the two narratives that interested me. Obviously the colored letter O – o’s for Hailey and o’s for Sam – must have some kind of significance in the book. Additionally, throughout (at least) the first 88 pages of each narrative, where animals are referenced in Sam’s narrative, plants are referenced in Hailey’s. I am not sure what this indicates, but I believe that it is also a significant correlation between the narrators.
The overall “narrative” of each section seem to follow a paralleled storyline, with many identical passages as well as many conflicting descriptions, which made me wonder – are these differences the result of the narration or of the actual storyline?
In certain passages, such as the description of Sam aerobically jumping then tumbling down a hill, the narration is almost exactly the same, except for a detail or two: “Until he chestslams the ground. Ow. Still now. Face down.” p.H36; “Until I backhammer the ground. Ow. Face up. Still now.” p.S36. Other instances in the narrative seem to make the story lines farther apart, such as how they describe each other as the ones wearing overalls or rags, being slow and terrible at driving, and being unskilled at playing pool or marbles. Although the narratives are written in different time periods, I keep wanting to believe they are just different perspectives of the same story. The differences so far seem like they could be based on Sam and Hailey’s way of telling the same story – how they saw it through their eyes.