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House of Leaves posted 25 July 2008 in Literature DiscussionHouse of Leaves by ThePrinceofNothing, Candidate

House of Leaves is a book written by Mark Danielewski, and is one of the most intriguing, confusing, terrifying, engaging and at the same time mind-boggling books I've ever read. Since finishing it I've gone back and reread several sections, and I find it rapidly climbing my list of favorite books. Here's the premise, for those who don't know:

The Navidson family first realizes something is wrong with their house on Ash Tree Lane when its dimensions on the inside are larger than the outside. The terrors ensue and eventually culminate when a mysterious, doorless, pitch black hallway materializes out of nowhere in the living room, extending out into their backyard. However, the impossibility lies in what one sees from outside; there is no protrusion, no corridor sitting on the Navidson's backyard. The doorway is a physical impossibility, leading into a seemingly unknown, unfathomable dimension. And its depths are equally unfathomable...

That's the basic idea of the story, but there's so much more to it than that. The narrative style is extremely intricate and oftentimes confusing. Will Navidson was a photo-journalist, so he took video documents of his explorations of the house. The narrative style is as follows: at the heart is The Navidson Record, which is being academically reviewed by a man named Zampano. Zampano's critical essay is in turn being edited by a man named Johnny Truant (the main narrator). Truant's edition is in turn being edited by a group of anonymous, ethereal editors. The book is littered with footnotes, some of which reference real works, others which reference completely fictional ones.

Johnny Truant is an interesting character, and provides a unique contrast to the story of The Navidson Record. He is an extremely unreliable narrator whose sanity comes into question the more he delves into the horrors of Zampano's essay. Furthermore, many of his footnotes are a self-contained story, with Truant going off on tangents when something in Zampano's writing trigger's his memory. His stories are more akin to the style of Kerouac or Thompson, involving tales of travel, loose women, and substance abuse.

All in all, the book is a fascinating read if you're a fan of extremely surreal, obscure material. The book is also an example of ergodic literature, with some pages containing only a few lines, some on which the text is upside-down, and others on which text appears written backwards. It is by no means an easy read, and requires a great deal of patience and determination on the reader's part. But if you have the time and energy, it's a very rewarding experience; and one hell of a dark, scary ride.

Also, be sure to read the appendices. They shed more light on the story. <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> view post


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