Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Form: Good or Bad? blog option 2

The form of any book plays a very important role. There are many different things that can be done with form. The form can both turn the reader on and make them want to read more or it can be quite a nuisance that will make the reader wish to stop reading. Both Jimmy Corrigan and The House of Leaves have an unusual form.

Although Jimmy Corrigan is a comic book, it is done in an obscure manner. First off, the actual dimensions of the book itself are different than most comic books. It is wider than it is tall, but in a few places throughout the book you have to turn the book to read or understand what is going on. One example of that is in the very beginning on the first three or four pages. It is kind of like Ware is introducing you to how the form will keep your attention throughout the rest of the book.

Another aspect of Jimmy Corrigan’s form that plays a big role is the sizing of the panels. There are some panels that are so small it can be hard to see what the picture is about, while there are others that take up entire pages. I think that the large panels that take up an entire page were meant to show that it is important, but at the same time I think that some of the small panels have scenes that are just as important to the story if not more important.

Trying to figure out what is going on because of the way Ware sets up the pages is very difficult. His form was a big turn off to me. I don’t like to read as it is, and when I have to work to understand what is going on I will usually give up. A good example of something that I didn’t even bother with is five pages before the epilogue. It is a two-page scene which is trying to depict that Jimmy and Amy are related in some way. The only reason I know that is because you told us in class. I looked at it for a minute or so then realized I had no idea what it was trying to say so I just moved on without it.

The form of House of Leaves seems fairly normal so far in what I have read, but flipping through the pages I see it is going to be difficult to read. I noticed some sideways and upside down passages as well as some pages that only have a few words. I’m guessing that it will play into the plot later, but as of now I don’t know what it is all about. Although, I did notice two things so far that I thought were kind of different. First off is the use of footnotes. There seems to be at least one footnote per page. And some of the footnotes extend for pages. There is a footnote that starts on page twelve and goes to page sixteen, but the book continues along in some of the same pages as the footnote. This was kind of distracting because I went back and forth instead of reading the footnote first then going back and reading the story like I’m guessing I should have done.

One other little thing I noticed in House of Leaves is how the word house is always in blue. I don’t know that this would be called form, but this too is very distracting and hard on my eyes. I have a hard enough time distinguishing colors of things that are large; so reading this fairly small font with different colors was a real strain on my eyes. I know only one word in every few paragraphs or so is colored, but it would mess up all the words around it for me.

I think that the form of a book plays a big role in how it will be read. If the form makes it flow and is appeasing to look at the book will be easy to read and very enjoyable. Unfortunately this is not the case in either one of these books. They both have difficult forms which make both of them hard to read. And I assume if it is difficult, most people will not want to continue to read.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

This is a perfectly good summary of some of the things we talked about in class re: Jimmy Corrigan especially, as well as an interesting beginning at a response. (That is, you object in some ways to the form of JC at least, and you're beginning to explore why).

What you end with, though, would ideally be more like your beginning - there isn't much space here for an argument to develop.

As far as your ending, here's a problem for you. In spite of what you accurately label as the deliberate difficulty of both books, they were both quite successful. Not quite on the level of Stephen King, but still genuinely successful. And I'm not talking about books ordered for classes or anything: I'm eccentric for teaching these books. They are successful from below, in other words.

So why and how does that difficult work for some, even if not for you?