Mark Z.'s Serial Attempt

Josh Spilker

Mark Z. Danielewski / LA Times

The House of Leaves and Only Revolutions author Mark Z. Danielewski is going where novelists went along time ago — back to the serialized novel. Dickens was the most famous to serialize his novels in magazines, but F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herman Melville, and Arthur Conan Doyle used the form.

But for the most part, this method has fallen out of favor with major publishers and authors. Danielewski, known for his experimentation, wants to try it with an upcoming work called The Familiar. Though the plans seem kind of sketchy, he reportedly got a $1 million for the first 10 volumes that are expected to be released every 3-4 months beginning in 2014. The series could stretch further, depending on reader response.

“It's possible that [our publishing] schedule could be accelerated. We're constantly open to new ideas — where will we be in 2014? Maybe digital releases every week, every few months a trade paperback or hardcover. The novel is designed to accommodate, anticipate various platforms,” Danielewski told the LA Times.

I've done some semi-extensive research on Danielewski's House of Leaves, and the thing I like best about Danielewski is that no one knows what to do with him. His first book, House of Leaves was even serialized online (in the year 2000…h/t GalleyCat) though it busted up contemporary forms, favoring something more like an art book. It does 'wild' things like use different fonts, has multiple narratives on a single page and contains blank pages. It's not just for gimmickry (though that's part of it), but it also signifies changes in voice.

A digression, but the point is that Danielewski isn't afraid to shake the boat. And here he is again, engaging the culture in standard format (see TV) that has proven itself to be engaging to audiences over the long-term. It's about time a major author picked this up again.

In all fairness to authors, it's dang hard to write a book. TV shows obviously have multiple people on staff, giving it the advantage over authors not named James Patterson or a member of his fleet of co-writers.

And as James Frey is attempting a similar 'factory' model, perhaps books will be released under group/collective names rather than individuals. You know, like a band creating music.

Another revolution.

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