The Fifty Year Sword

The Fifty Year Sword - Mark Z. Danielewski 'What I have to tell you,' he began slowly. 'I must show you. But what I show you I must also tell you. I have only myself and where I've been and what I found and what I now bring. And it will frighten you.'I'm sure the majority of people that braved [b:House of Leaves|24800|House of Leaves|Mark Z. Danielewski||856555] would likely never be willing to pick up another Danielewski book again. I know I wasn't planning to, but somehow this ended up going home with me. Quite similar to [b:House of Leaves|24800|House of Leaves|Mark Z. Danielewski||856555] in that it also has strange formatting and a trippy story that doesn't appear to make any sort of sense. But this one really made no sense, at all. Any book that starts off the first page with straight-up instructions should be given up on immediately. It's a BOOK. You read the words. No instructions required. But no, we get this long diatribe which the below is only a small section:'...with characterizing phrases, temporal references, and even more quotation marks hopelessly nested within reiterating nests of still more marks; to delineate their respective and independently conducted interviews, colored quotation marks are used instead...'If I was smart, I would have stopped there, said:And went on with my life reading literature which didn't require instructions, or colored quotation marks. Not that the colored quotation marks actually made any fucking sense to begin with. I mean seriously, 1 is supposed to be a light purple, 2 is a yellowish, 3 is an orange, 4 is a red, and 5 is like a dark purple. And each number is supposed to be a different narrator except all the quotations are jumbled. My first thought was that you weren't meant to read the book straight through but read according to the color, but that didn't form coherent sentences so... basically, I ignored the quotation marks, read it in its entirety from the first word to the last, and that didn't really make much more sense than the other way.Once you get past the first confusing 60 pages or so and get to the root of the story, about the man that came for the five orphans with the large box with five latches. He tells a story of how he obtained that box, and how it's up to the children to open it up. The book jacket was the part that really sold me though... a sword that can kill an idea? Whoa, trippy. Except... it wasn't ever in the book. Yeah, no answer to that either.This is basically a large jumbled poem, except it's not even that large. Images took up the majority of the 288 pages and no text ever appeared on the right pages (reasoning for that is left unknown). So basically the book likely could have been condensed down to about 50 pages tops. I can only imagine what his publisher thought. I imagine it would've been something like this:"So, you have a 50 page story but you want to make it 288 pages, not print anything on every other page but sometimes include large images that are completely irrelevant to the story and also include colored quotation marks that appear at random AND include instructions that the reader is supposed to understand but likely never will? Yeah, okay, sure, why not."

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