Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves is not a science fiction of fantasy book. In fact, I’m not sure what to call this book. Nevertheless I feel compelled to share my experience with it. House of Leaves is a bizarre, psychological-horror-puzzle that will make your head explode if you try to understand it all.
House of Leaves is about many things although on the surface it provides a pseudo-scholarly examination of a documentary film that may or may not be fictitious. The subject of the documentary film is a house that is larger on the inside than on the outside. Terrible things happen inside this house as the owner and film maker, Navidson, documents his exploration of the extra-dimensional spaces found within the house. The house is possibly alive and it is constantly changing. Hallways and doors change without notice. For example, traveling down a staircase may take only a few seconds but travelling back up that same stairway might take days.
This hardly describes the true plot of this book. The House of Leaves is a fictional book about a fictional film, however in the margins and on several pages are the thoughts of other characters, Zampano and Jonny Truant, who are “reading” House of Leaves and trying to understand it. This act of comprehending the House of Leaves kills Zampano and horrifies Truant. In fact, the introduction to the book is a warning from Truant.
The book has a most unconventional setup. First, it’s filled with various footnotes and references to academic journals, magazines, and scholarly writings; most of which do not exist. Second, there is a separate type-face used to notate the various characters thoughts. Additionally the book has passages in many languages, English, German, Latin, Russian, Braille, and possibly others. There are seemingly random lists of things, passages printed backwards and written in code, entire lines that are struck through, and some very creative page layout. Also the word “house” is always printed in blue.
One could easily write an entire book just trying to explain House of Leaves. Nevertheless it’s worth reading if you are interested in an unconventional novel. Stop by the library and check it out
Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are encouraged.