Mark Danielewski strode into the basement of Brookline Booksmith about ten minutes late, amid raucous cheering from a packed house. Over a hundred people were crammed into the used book section of the well-known independent Brookline bookstore, all eager for a glimpse, a quick listen, of the man who has written such strange, haunting books.
“Strange” and “haunting” would prove to be two of the tell-tale words of the night, as Danielewski, wearing his trademark hoodie, straw fedora and cat T-shirt (yep, the man loves cats), took his place at the front of the room and almost immediately asked for an audience member’s copy of his first book, the cult classic House of Leaves, to start a Facebook-requested reading.
He loved being in front of a small, intimate audience, and his inner monologue burst out as he leafed through the book, saying, “It’s nice to be in Boston…some of these are tricky…I might do that…ooh, I haven’t read this in a long time. Isn’t this exciting?" He put his head down and mumbled for an hour!
After reading two incredibly intense sections from House of Leaves, Danielewski asked for questions from the audience, of which he received many: “Any bold askers? Questioners? Interlocutors?”
He answered questions about his origins as a writer: “When I was younger, I told my parents, ‘I want to write…’ and so I just write all the time.”
He discussed his books, speaking lovingly of them and saying, “They’re like my kids. In a way, I see them as all part of the same book.”
After about an hour of questions, Danielewski read from his new book, The Fifty Year Sword, which he described as “just a ghost story.” Fitting for Halloween, right? As he read, the slow pace of his words took over the room. Reciting a particularly creepy section of the book, he trapped the audience in his slow, deliberate reading, making every word jump out of the page and into the small room.
The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski is available now in print and online, but I would highly recommend buying it from Brookline Booksmith and supporting a great local business. His other books, House of Leaves, Only Revolutions and The Whalestoe Letters are also available at the Booksmith.