Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Blog 7: Prompt 2

Similarities between Jimmy Corrigan and House of Leaves

            At first sight Jimmy Corrigan and House of leaves are two books that would be thought to be completely different. Chris Ware incorporates his comic book talent of bringing images to life, and moving a story along just with pictures and comics, while Danielewski’s House of Leaves is a book, with no illustrations, no pictures except for the front cover, yet the two books have a striking similarity about them. The striking similarities between Jimmy Corrigan and House of leaves, lies not in the stylistic characteristics of their authors. Rather it lies in the similar way in which the message of each literary work is carried to the reader. Reading Jimmy Corrigan definitely prepares you for a book like House of leaves. If there is one thing that was learned from reading Jimmy Corrigan is that it requires active reading. You have to actively be aware of events and what they mean, and the meanings of symbols. This same mentality is one that must be used to read house of leaves. One of the biggest similarities between the two works is the never-ending maze of information being relayed at all times in all forms to the reader. In both books we are presented with several versions of a story, being told from several perspectives, this gives the reader the ability to decide whether the story being told is true, or simply the opinion of the narrator that is speaking at that particular moment.

            To start off both books, both authors make sure to guide their readers on how to properly navigate their work. In Jimmy Corrigan, Chris ware starts off on the inside cover page with instructions on how to successfully read his book. Almost like he knows that we are about to set sail into a wind like we’ve never experienced. He prepares his readers for the unexpected style in which he writes.  House of Leaves we see a similar thing been done by Danielewski in which he also starts off the book on the inside of the cover page where he explains the origin of the book, all the way to the version which we now have in our hands. He also provides footnotes throughout the novel. Footnotes that help the reader further delve into the meaning of the book. While this stylistics writing of Chris Wares and Danielewski’s may be confusing to some people, for the most part I believe that both books were written for a reader with an active mind. The instructions and footnotes are not to be taken lightly, in order to properly understand both books, and in order to be able to weed out some of the confusing information that is found in House of Leaves, one must already be in-tune with what parts of the book are essential to the storyline.

            Another way, in which active reading is enforced on the reader of both Jimmy Corrigan and House of leaves, is the way in which both authors uses the narrators to determine the timeline of the book. In Jimmy Corrigan, we constantly see the role of narrator of the book go from Jimmy, to his father then onto his grandfather all portrayed from child to adulthood, while the same picture depicts all three characters. This is a way in which Chris Ware enforces active reading, because without being focused properly on the novel it is easy to get lost. Another form of instruction given by both Chris Ware and Danielewski is a technique to let the reader know what narrator is currently speaking. In House of leaves we get this through the different fonts, and spacing of sentences.
“ In an effort to limit confusion, Mr. Truant’s footnotes will appear in Courier font while Zampano’s will appear in Times”.
While in Jimmy Corrigan, we get this through Chris Wares use of color. For example the red bird that is constantly seen in the book is used to signify the transition of time. In the panel to the left we see a 4 pictures of the same house going through several seasons, and changes, and the bird is present in each one of them to show the change in time.

            Both Authors begin the book by giving the reader a forewarning of the frustration that they may encounter while reading their work. This is due to the high level of activity that both books require. Chris Ware’s use of symbolism, color and graphics to convey a story without the use of words, is a style that is not very common, yet he does it fluidly in Jimmy Corrigan. This is something that Danielewski also does in House of leaves; he uses several narrative perspectives, colors, and sometimes text oriented completely upside down to keep the attention of the reader. While at initial sight both works seems to be completely differently however, after delving into them it becomes apparent the similarities between both of them.  Both Authors ultimately take their readers mind to the highest point of activity by constantly working the minds of the readers with puzzling discoveries.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I'm a little divided about your first paragraph. Your writing is clear, and there is good material (see "active reading", for instance). Still, it's too long, especially since you aren't really saying anything very specific yet.

Re: the 2nd paragraph, I need to ask if you really think the footnotes make HOL easier to read. I think they make it much harder. There's an important question here about all instructions: should any of these instructions be taken seriously/literally? I think you're absolutely correct that they demand active reading - maybe you should be more clear about what active reading is and what it gets us.

Your discussion of the timelines of the book is reasonable but vague and broad. I'd like to have seen you be more focused.

Overall: The concept of active reading is a useful one, and you don't say anything wrong - nor even anything uninteresting - about either book. Your writing is fluid and clear, if a little verbose. What I wanted to see here, but didn't get, was a detailed demonstration of what active reading gets us - probably through an analysis of parallel passages from the two texts, although you might have focused more on one or the other. This *is* a reasonable start for an essay - just a little too unfocused in this version.