book reviews, writing

The Signiconic & Negation in The Familiar by Mark Z. Danielewski

Critical Analysis of The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski

Pantheon, 2015

ISBN: 978-0375714948

Paperback, 880 pp., $25


This book is a phenomenal start to an in-progress series that will eventually have 27 parts (Danielewski is currently at work on the third). It will be published on May 12, 2015, and you can preorder it here. (In my opinion it’s worth the money, both for reasons you can read below if you decide to stick with me and for the brilliant colorful artwork, high-quality binding/pages, etcetera.) There are some general thematic spoilers in this essay if you’re concerned about that, but the actual events of the novel are not given away. For a pdf version, which contains better formatting and all of the characters’ fonts, click here.

 The Signiconic & Negation in The Familiar Continue reading

college life, psychology, writing

on success & selfishness

The past few weeks have been incredible, in a less-than-adequate word–I’ll explain the details in this post–but all the great things that have come may way lately have also made me think a lot about the nature of success and intelligence in general. What I mean by this is something I became more aware of after reading (and listening to) a lot of David Foster Wallace: the inherent selfishness of, well, everybody. And yeah, really I’m just talking about myself here, but I’m talking about my selfishness, so there’s some irony for you. Continue reading

family, writing

on the English major & blogging

I’ve spent a lot of time lately trying to figure out what part I want writing to play in my adult life. I spent most of high school in denial, telling myself that I loved chemistry just as much as I love fiction and journalism and hell, even editing. I’d say to people that I’d be a research scientist and write on the side, because that’s what you do. I’d actually make money, I’d be helping people, and I’d still get to write.

But the transition to college has made me think hard about what kind of life I want to have, and Continue reading

family, writing

house (& sister) sitting

At the moment I’m illegally (by my mother’s standards) house sitting for my dad while he spends a couple days in San Francisco with his girlfriend. (I’m eighteen, but she, as the concerned mom and ex-wife, doesn’t like leaving me alone with my fourteen-year-old sister in our oh-so-dangerous suburban neighborhood, so don’t tell her.) In the day he’s been gone, I’ve managed to scrub the sink squeaky clean and almost break the disposer. (Putting a chopped lemon down that thing to “clean” it is a very loud affair, let me tell you.) I’ve also had many strange internal dialogues with myself whilst showering, one of which questioned whether “two pigs in a blanket” is the same as “two peas in a pod,” and if so, whether that could be interpreted as a weird sexual situation.

Well, this has been a lovely introduction so far, hasn’t it? As for the sane side of myself, I’m behind on the poem collection I’m working on right now. I usually write more fiction than poetry, but I thought I’d do one a day for August, just to get back to reliably writing, and I have two or three to catch up on. The main themes of the collection are leaving home, anxiety, loss of innocence, adulthood, that kind of thing. Some of them are pretty dark, but it’s mainly about getting past that. It can be found here if you’re interested.


I also got my room and roommate assignments from UCSB today, where I’ll be a freshman this fall. I’m ridiculously excited! I got Santa Catalina, which wasn’t my first choice–it’s about a mile from campus–but it’s still really nice, and I’ll have a bike. Orientation last month was really just a tease; I can’t wait to get back and start all my classes.

I’m taking Intro to Literary Study, Intro to Cultural Anthropology, and Calculus for Social & Life Sciences (yeah, hardly a real math class, I know). As a freshman I’m not allowed more than 12-15 units, so I can’t take anything else this quarter. I really ought to read the books required for intro to lit, but I feel like I should pre-read the ones I’m least excited for first, and that would entail Dickens, which I’m not in the mood for right now. I guess that’s understandable, as I’m reading a hilarious book about the devil (I, Lucifer) and a bunch of Sylvia Plath short stories (Johnny Panic & the Bible of Dreams).

The books required are Hard Times (Dickens), Remainder (Tom McCarthy), House of Leaves (Mark Danielewski) A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid), & Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Melville). I’ll definitely be reviewing them later on. Till then I’ll be figuring out what to pack and reviewing whatever I read this summer. On that note I will end this post, and go ask my sister to feed the dog.

…Being the adult of the house is really weird.