The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May

The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May

by Mark Z. Danielewski

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Overview

NATIONAL BEST SELLER  

The Familiar Volume 1 Wherein the cat is found . . . 

From the author of the international best seller House of Leaves and National Book Award–nominated Only Revolutions comes a monumental new novel as dazzling as it is riveting. The Familiar (Volume 1) ranges from Mexico to Southeast Asia, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, with nine lives hanging in the balance, each called upon to make a terrifying choice. They include a therapist-in-training grappling with daughters as demanding as her patients; an ambitious East L.A. gang member contracted for violence; two scientists in Marfa, Texas, on the run from an organization powerful beyond imagining; plus a recovering addict in Singapore summoned at midnight by a desperate billionaire; and a programmer near Silicon Beach whose game engine might unleash consequences far exceeding the entertainment he intends. At the very heart, though, is a twelve-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous . . . which will change not only her life and the lives of those she has yet to encounter, but this world, too—or at least the world we think we know and the future we take for granted.

(With full-color illustrations throughout.) 

THE FAMILIAR continues... 

The Familiar Volume 2 Wherein the cat is hungry . . . 
The Familiar Volume 3 Wherein the cat is blind . . . 
The Familiar Volume 4 Wherein the cat is toothless . . . 
The Familiar Volume 5 Wherein the cat is named . . . 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375714948
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Series: Familiar , #1
Pages: 880
Sales rank: 149,716
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

MARK Z. DANIELEWSKI was born in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles.

Hometown:

Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

March 5, 1966

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., Yale University, 1988; M.F.A., University of Southern California, 1993

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of The Familiar (Volume 1): One Rainy Day in May, Mark Z. Danielewski’s monumental new novel featuring nine diverse yet somehow interconnected characters. Feel free to wander in your discussions as you share different perspectives and explore the first volume of this vast new world.

1.  Mark Z. Danielewski has described his work as “signiconic”—in which text and image merge to provide the reader with an entirely new perspective.

“Signiconic = sign + icon. Rather than engage those textual faculties of the mind remediating the pictorial or those visual faculties remediating language, the signiconic simultaneously engages both in order to lessen the significance of both, and therefore achieve a third perception no longer dependent on sign and image for remediating a world in which the mind plays no part.” —Mark Z. Danielewski

How do text and image work together throughout this volume?

2. Discuss the use of epigraphs throughout the book. What do they tell us about the individual characters? How do they help us understand The Familiar (Volume 1) as a whole?

3. How do the nine narratives of The Familiar (Volume 1) connect with one another? You might consider common themes, mentions of characters from other narratives, details about the setting, or the way one narrative transitions into the next.

4. Discuss Xanther’s irrepressible curiosity and how others react to it. Which of her questions did you find most intriguing or insightful? How do her questions change the perceptions of those around her?

5. Discuss the different belief systems in the book, particularly mythology, superstition, ritual, and magic. What is the connection between fortune-telling and the futuristic prophecy in the coming attractions?

6. Discuss the themes of custody, care, and responsibility. Who is taking care of whom? How would you relate custody in the sense of parenting to custody in a more general sense (from familiars and totems to Anwar’s game)?

7. The old Indian at the El Tajín bus stop tells Isandòrno, “But what hunts you now amigo you already own.” (p. 325) What do you think he means by this? For which of the other characters is it relevant?

8. What literary genres are associated with the different characters? How would you characterize the voice of each?

9. Jingjing’s chapters contain the most variety of language, and he yearns to travel, as is evidenced by the postcards (p. 108) next to his hammock. Yet he has chosen a life that keeps him very insulated. Why do you think he made that choice? Do you think it was driven by fear, money, duty, the desire for power, or something else?

10. The Orb emanates green light (p. 155) when Cas is in the final stages of decrypting it, Shnorhk argues in court (p. 228) that he “had green,” Anwar notices green light (p. 770) in Xanther’s room when he sees the cat in her bed, and “green” appears in various languages in the book. Is this a significant link? Why or why not? Where else in the volume does color cross temporal or geographical boundaries?

11. The Familiar (Volume 1) features many examples of digital technology—from game engines to social networks. What benefits do these technologies bring? What problems do they create?

12. What is the significance of the origami—and its accompanying katla-katla-katla—that seems to be ever-present in Özgür’s hands at crime scenes? (p. 170)

13. Who or what is a Narcon (p. 563) and what is its function? How does the description of the Narcons change your overall understanding of The Familiar (Volume 1)?

14. In the chapter “Is little irrelevant,” we learn from Mnatsagan that Shnorhk no longer speaks Armenian (p. 397) or plays Armenian music, although he feels very strongly that evidence of the Armenian Genocide should be preserved. Why do you think that is so? Do you have any guesses about the “first” thing Mnatsagan misses about Shnorhk?

15. Discuss the theme of time. What is the function of the timestamp in the corner of the pages? Why does everything take place on one rainy day in May? What gestures is the book making toward linking the deep past with the distant future?

16. Los Angeles was featured in Danielewski’s debut novel, House of Leaves, and it is prominent here as well. How does it enhance the story and almost become a central “character” in the book?

17. Why does Hopi seem to rattle Luther at such a deep level—even if Luther can’t always admit that fact to himself? And why do you think Hopi’s hands arrest Luther’s attention?

18. What do the fonts and page layouts tell you about each character—for instance, the relationship between Astair and Anwar’s chapters? Do you think the meaning of white space changes from page to page or chapter to chapter, or would you argue that there is a universal rule?

19. How does Oria’s story function in relation to the rest of the book? Did the perspective from the owl’s point of view significantly change how you would perceive the scene from a different vantage point? How is empathy displayed throughout this book?

20. Which character has most piqued your interest, and where do you think he or she will be headed in The Familiar (Volume 2)? Which character do you think has the most to lose?

21. Who or what is “the familiar”?

Customer Reviews

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The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful start to a very complex and wonderful series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worse than terrible. This is unreadable in nook app.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing start to an amazing series full of characters that leap right off the pages and you'll either love or love to not love. The Familiar has something for actual everyone: science, math, art, gaming, music, all things pop culture--you name it and probably it'll pop up somewhere in there. If you're familiar (no pun intended) with Danielewski's work you already have an inkling of what to expect, but if not don't be intimidated when you first see the size and scope of the book. 880 pages fly right by and almost guaranteed you'll be dying for volume 2 immediately. Can be slightly challenging but is always very, very rewarding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing. It is unlike anything I have very read before in the best way possible. It lures you in with a slow start. The format takes a bit to get used to, but by the end of the book The Familiar has grabbed you and it won't let go. #BeAHymnForGood
batmanofbaylor More than 1 year ago
Having finished all of Season 1, these books just get better and better. Once you become FAMILIAR (in pink) with the structure and voice of each character, they fly by, and MZD does a great job of answering questions/mysteries that are set up early on. Give it a chance, and you will not be disappointed. Life changing stuff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Familiar series is brilliant, and you won't regret getting involved as they are all equally as enthralling! its is beautiful, intelligent, violent and the characters are all deeply explored. love, love, love these books!
Agnes Hayden More than 1 year ago
These Books have truly changed my life! Certain characters of these books felt so real and so relevant, they turned me into a super fan: i started drawing story related things, I started wearing pink sneakers, I started dying my shirts a certain way. It made me feel like a teenager again, obsessing over a favorite band. There is so much to lose yourself in in these stories, and so many details to discover while reading along, that it truly feels like an adventure full of magic, darkness and mysteries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best series you're not reading. Briefly, the story of a little girl who finds a cat. But really so much more. It's the story of nine people whose lives are suddenly entangled. The first of proposed 27, One Rainy Day in May is a wonderful introduction to the next volumes. It may seem slow going at times, but the pace picks up as you go along, and subsequent volumes move much faster once introductions have been established. A must read for fans of Danielewski's other works, and readers of sci-fi, detective novels, graphic novels and so much more will also find something they will enjoy. A worthwhile read all around
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best series you're not reading. Briefly, the story of a little girl who finds a cat. But really so much more. It's the story of nine people whose lives are suddenly entangled. The first of proposed 27, One Rainy Day in May is a wonderful introduction to the next volumes. It may seem slow going at times, but the pace picks up as you go along, and subsequent volumes move much faster once introductions have been established. A must read for fans of Danielewski's other works, and readers of sci-fi, detective novels, graphic novels and so much more will also find something they will enjoy. A worthwhile read all around
Helen Hero More than 1 year ago
I've read this volume twice already and know I will read it again and again and again with amazement and joy. It's full of wonder and beauty. From the amazing work people put into putting it together (pictures, layout, fonts..) to the diversity in all characters, main or sidekick. MZD really lets you get to know the " cast" of this amazing series and takes you into every characters personal world. Because of the many layers of the book and stories, yes I do say stories though it is all connected I'm sure, this book (nay this series) is like a beautiful painting that lets you stare at it all day long seeing new wonders throughout the day without getting tired or bored with it. Yes, the first volume is an introduction to the whole series (27 volumes, divided into several seasons. It's like binging some amazing tv series) so this one is a little bit harder to get, but the many layers do make it so that you will enjoy the book, even though you don't get "the whole picture" yet. Bare with it, have some patience, give yourself time to get to know it all and enjoy the ride!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest777 More than 1 year ago
This book is just the beginning of an engrossing story, with 27 volumes planned. It is like the first episode of a TV show, giving you a taste of each character. The book itself is so well-designed it's difficult to NOT catch your eye and the story is as interesting as the book looks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago