House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski)

House of Leaves is an amazing book, and far less confusing to read than I thought. Mark Z. Danielewski really eases you into the whole thing.

If you’ve never heard of it, you should read the next paragraph [no spoilers]. If you know what it’s about and how it looks, you can skip it.

House of Leaves is multilayered. Starting from the center you have a family, the Navidsons who move to Virginia. Will, the father, is a photojournalist who promised Karen, the mother, to give up his job because it is too dangerous. They have two kids. As a kind of compensation for the loss of his job, Will starts documenting how they settle into their new house by installing cameras everywhere. Things start to get eerie when Will sees that a small storage room appeared between his bedroom and the kids’ room where there has been only a blank wall before. Will starts measuring things and notices that the house is bigger from the inside than from the outside.
These and the following events are all captured on tape by the cameras and lateron the documentary “The Navidson Record” is made from it.
Zampano, a blind old man, writes an academic book about this documentary, referring to many other academic books in footnotes.
Johnny Truant is a young man who finds the (unfinished) book by Zampano and edits it, inserting new footnotes where he tells you about how the book affected his life.
So, you have Notes from the publisher/editor -> Johnny -> Zampano -> The Navidson Record (-> The Navidsons themselves). For every person you have another font, there are stylistic representations of the things happening in the books (labyrinthic footnotes, words placed in a corner or in the middle of the page, only one word per page etc), the word house is always printed in blue, struck passages appear in red and much more.

I really liked it. It’s one of the most uncanny books I’ve ever read, it’s gripping, fascinating and when you look around the web (see for example), you find about one hundred things you’ve missed and you want to read it again to discover them. Apart from that it’s well written and intelligent and very cool. ;)

I guess you need to be interested in the act of reading and in texts themselves to really enjoy it, but if you are, I definitely recommend it.

Now on my favourite books/authors list.

5 thoughts on “House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski)

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  2. I loved it. I must admit the architectural footnotes got a bit boring and I think that the huge empty house could have had more in it, but hey. Loved the whole idea, atmosphere, conception.

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  4. Pingback: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer) « Stuff

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