Danielewski’s Constraints

Phew. Mind sufficiently blown and/or melting. I’m finding myself carried along through this book with its skipping lyricism, but once I sat down to look back over it and identify these constraints, my eyes crossed.

The first constraint I noticed (and confirmed thanks to handy dandy Google) is that in the historical/political column, Danielewski uses the euphimism “go(es)” when referring to deaths or casualties. I have a feeling he used this word because it sounds more casual and in tune with the language of Sam and Hailey, and also to be more subtle in his morbidity (he employs metonymy also by saying “four graves” on the second page of Sam’s side.)

Secondly, the cultural references on each side at first correspond more closely to the time period of the historical/political section (Sam’s starts at 1864, Hailey’s at 1964.) For example, on the last line of page 25, Sam says “Morning! — Howdy! — Heigh!” while Hailey says “What up! — Hey boss! — Yo!” However, things start to blend later on as the dates begin to merge, such as on page 50 when Hailey references a Dodge Charger and Sam references a Cadillac One, which is apparently Obama’s car. Definitely not 1903 era.

Finally, “creep” “CREEP” or “THE CREEP” is in purple text, probably to make him stand out to the reader.

Hopefully I can expand on these or put the patterns into more concrete, mathematical terms as I progress through the book.

-Kayla Hunter



~ by kah117 on February 19, 2011.

2 Responses to “Danielewski’s Constraints”

  1. I noticed the use of “goes” as well. I don’t know if it’s a constraint, rather than a choice of verbiage. Would a constraint be that he can’t use the word “died?”

    About the vernacular matching the time period. I don’t exactly know if each person exists in their own time period, but if they are actually living in that time period it’s more what that person would actually say, rather than a constraint.

    I think that the “creep” being in purple is a constraint and it is probably to make it stand out. But why purple?

    I don’t think you copied anyone else’s constraints.

    • I like your “back door” idea of the constraint: it’s not that he always says “goes,” it’s that he never says “dies.” However, is this true throughout the rest of the novel?

      The timeline is what makes this such a tough read. Sure, clues like the vernacular used in each character’s story make it a little clearer, but the reality is that when a momentous event* occurring on one page is continued on the next, yet the book indicates this is a year into the future, while a single day passes in the others’ timeline, it gets confusing.

      As for the “creep?” 100% pure cheesy fake “edginess.” Oh man, the word is different than the rest what does it mean omfg so artistic………..seriously, this doesn’t make you look like a good writer. It makes you look like you’re trying (and failing) to be a deep writer.

      *by “momentous” I mean not an event in the sense of “the Civil War,” but something trivial like someone standing up

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