HADES by Mark Z. Danielewski


From the "The Familiar" series, volume 4
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"Envy is not a vewy laudable twait.” No, Elmer Fudd hasn’t gone to work for Mossad, but he wouldn’t be out of place in this sprawling-by-formula continuation of Danielewski’s (Honeysuckle and Pain, 2016, etc.) modern epic.

Four volumes in, Danielewski has by now set some parameters that are approaching hard rules; each major player, for instance, gets a font of his or her own, so that Xanther, the protagonist, figures in Minion, while her father, Anwar, is represented, neatly enough, in an ancestral Garamond. It’s a field day for the folks down at the Adobe type shop and usually not too hard on the reader’s eyes. For his part, the rhotically challenged Warlock (“its cwimes against humanity, committed in the twentieth centuwy, slip beyond ou’ pu’view”) provides some of the philosophical underpinning for Danielewski’s story, in which someone somewhere is always talking about something portentous: human nature, social disintegration, the problem of violence. Oh, and soccer, “a subject mined with violence,” which threatens to bring conversation to an end and break the “sense of familiarity and trust that will serve when distance intervenes during volatile interactions.” Xanther, her mysterious cat always wandering off somewhere, is heard from perhaps a touch less than in previous books, sometimes now in the sometimes-calligrammatic texting language of just-barely-teenagers (“kitteh update please”/“>^..^<”).

For fans only. From this installment, it’s hard to see how Danielewski will keep up the narrative energy to bring the story to a close 20 volumes from now—but readers deep into the series will be wanting more all the same.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-375-71500-6
Page count: 880pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2016


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