Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children. Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices. The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.
About the Author
Mark Z. Danielewski was born in 1966. House of Leaves is his first novel.
There was a time many years ago that literature became something of great importance to me. I began reading all the classics, soon found Vonnegut, Heller and the like. Writers with a sense of humour but profound story telling skills. So I decided to take a step outside this genre and try something new. In my search for this something, someone suggested House of Leaves and told me to be ready for it, it's going to do something to me. That was an understatement.
The book (its typography and design) at first is a mess, the story, just the same. But there was a part in this book where everything just melded together and the insanity of it all became apparent and believe me, that insanity will come to the reader too. Don't read this book in the dark.
If you are a fan of horror, suspense, storytelling and books that have an impact on the reader, this book is for you.
Many people, when talking or writing about House of Leaves, mention the list of literature that it alludes to, pays homage to, or borrows from. I won't do that, but the list is very long. The book is a little like an onion, containing at least seven layers of self-reference. This gives Danielewski a lot of room to play in and he uses it, skipping from level to level and never allowing the reader to become too absorbed by any one facet of the narrative. He also plays with the layout of the book in interesting ways, creating a cinematic effect.
The innermost story concerns the Navidson family, who live in a house that is not haunted in the traditional sense, but is still an unpleasant place to live as a result of supernatural forces -- it's larger from the inside than from the outside. Part of the fun involves their discovery of just how much bigger the inside really is. Now, moving outwards through the layers of the onion: Navidson creates several films about the house, scholars react to and criticize the films, an old man named Zampanò writes a long treatise about the films and the academic reaction to them, a young man named Johnny Truant transcribes the treatise and adds his own footnotes, his editors add footnotes of their own, and finally, the book mentions the first edition of House of Leaves. None of this is difficult to keep track of while reading the book, and the result is very engrossing -- I had a hard time putting it down.
I liked a lot of things about this book, it's very idea rich -- Danielewski throws in all sorts of crazy stuff, and it works most of the time. It also tells a good story, or rather, several good stories. It's very funny in places, and respectably scary in others. Finally, the different levels of narrative resonate well with each other. So, while I sometimes found it to be overly pretentious and self-indulgent, I enjoyed this book a lot.
This is like no other novel you've read. The story is chilling, convoluted, mysterious - certain parts still haunt me. The account of the five and a half minute hallway videotape kept me awake one night.
Apart from the words on the page, the very layout unsettles. Different fonts are used, occasionally different colours. The word 'house' is always in blue, but sometimes the blue is lighter or darker, just by a fraction. The word itself is always either a little higher, lower, far left or far right than the surrounding text, as though the typist of the manuscript had left a blank space on the page where 'house' should be.
Read this book. But watch out for the minotaur.
this book has received rave reviews from people all over the world, and, although i can see the charm to conspiracy theroy lovers, it is not the best book. it is written in strange ways, with the sentences sometimes suspended in mid page or arranged in a stair like fashion. worth a read
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