Constraints in Only Revolutions

Only Revolutions certainly was a challenging read – not only did it impose stringent patterns that made it harder to acquire what was being presented to you,  but also within the narrative itself, reading was strenuous.  Passages were purposefully ambiguous and haphazard, forcing the reader to reexamine sections over and over again in order to derive the full meaning.  This book makes you work for the meaty bits, but it was definitely satisfying once you sync with the rhythm.

Three constraints and patterns I found while reading were:

#1 As you flip through the pages from either side of the book, the inner circles make a complete revolution around each other from within the larger circle.  However, just considering the outer circle itself, the same  edges remain orange and green as the circles rotate inside.  This is obviously more of a pattern than a restraint, but it is yet another interesting way the title manifests itself from within the novel.

#2 Contextually, Hailey and Sam are perpetually 16 years old.  They evidently do not age through time, so the author is forced to keep them at that age and construct their characters accordingly, despite their vast experiences that may dictate an older mindset.  This is not a statement about the overt structure of Only Revolutions but more of a comment on confines of personality the author imposed on his creations.

#3 Certain words within the novel are completely capitalized (e.g. CYCLOGIRLS, THE NEW BITTY, THE CREEP, etc.)  Although I am not too sure of the significance yet, it seems that other people within the story are given these capitalized nicknames, perhaps to differentiate them from Hailey and Sam and their acquired immortality.  As another blog post stated, nicknames for groups of people denoted by numbers are also capitalized.


-Victoria Lang


~ by victoriafrolics on February 18, 2011.

2 Responses to “Constraints in Only Revolutions”

  1. In your second constraint, Hailey and Sam’s apparent immortality is discussed. You stated that they “evidently” do not age, which is about as accurate as one could be; it was never mentioned within the story that they are immortal, but from the context, it seems like the only plausible way they could experience so many generations. What perplexed me, however, is the chronological structure of the book: for example, in Sam’s story, they meet in the 1800s, while in Hailey’s, they meet in 1963. Their “anti-parallel” time stretching structure was quite confusing, as well; a whole year might pass in one’s story while a single day passes in the other’s.

    One thing I waver on, however, is the idea that their mindsets age while they do not; rather, I think the author’s intent was to create the ultimate static characters: not even time itself can alter them, in body or mind. If the author had intended for their minds to age but not their bodies, what would be the purpose of keeping them 16 forever in the first place? In addition, their youthfulness can be evident throughout the story, especially regarding the vivid sex.

    At the end of the paragraph, you stated that the constraint is not in reference to the novel structure, but to the character personalities. While I completely agree, and while this should stay valid within in any regular novel, it makes for an excruciatingly hard-to-read novel. The characters are both 16…they apparently live in different eras…yet they can still talk to each other…and time moves at different speeds for both of them (by the way, this is my own interpretation of it; I could be and likely am very wrong, blame Danielewski).

    • You didn’t address all three restraints, or whether or not they were repeats from previous posts.

      You gave a very thoughtful and wide-ranging critique of one of the constraints she listed, but didn’t comment on whether or not it’s actually a constraint. Can the arc of a character be considered a constraint? Technically a constraint is something you can’t do, it’s prohibited by the rules set out. What are the rules that the examples she set out exemplify?

      In places your comment agrees or disagrees with her comments, however Jaime didn’t ask us to do that. She just wants us to evaluate the post on whether or not there were three constraints, whether or not they were actual constraints or just conventions, and if the constraints were repeated. I don’t think you did any of those things.

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