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Pages of madness and confusion: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski August 31, 2009

Posted by kiddoinspace in books, review.


For the first book review on this blog I picked House of Leaves, a book like no other I’ve read (or will read). It’s very original and complex, so I’m not going to start talking about the full meaning of the book, because believe me, that could take more than one blog entry.

Example of a page from the book. It gets better.

Example of a page from the book. It gets better.

I heard a lot of things about House of Leaves that made me want to read it. The one that seemed to catch the attetnion of everyone was the originalty of the writing. Here we are presented with a book withing a book containing a story within a story. First of all we have the story of Johny who discovers a manuscript called The Navidson Record, written by a blind old man called Zampanó. The manuscript is the retelling and analysis of the movie of the same name us the story of William Navidson and his family as they buy a new house, which is much bigger in the inside thatn the outside.

At the same time as we read this main story, Johny tells us his story via footnotes he adds (Zampanó had already wrote some footnotes too), some of them pages long.

And this is how the story goes. As we read the events on The Navidson Record we see how all this affects Johny and the book itself. Many of us have heard the phrase “When life imitates art”, but what happens when art imitates it’s content? House of Leaves happens.

I told you it got better.

I told you it got better.

In the main story (the Navidson Record) a group of people lead by Navidson enter a large, dark corridor that suddenly appeared in the house, here they found a huge labyrinth of corridors and doors. As they go on and on, making various trips, the house begins to chenge, each time they are faced with something different.

As the house and the events change so does the text, in moments of tension the pages are full of text, and when the action gets faster, the pages are filled with few words, making us read faster too. There are times that a full rotation of the book is needed, this actions immerse us into the story, as if us too were part of it. When we read how the film talked about in the book has started a whole revolution of articles and discussion about it’s meaning, we wonder if the house‘s influence is so big that it was capable of reach us. That’s what this whole arrengement makes, it changes us into another character of the book.

Reading House of Leaves is a great experience, the whole action of rotating the book or following the footnotes, even going back a fe pages, it’s a lot of fun and a whole different reading experience. Danielewski shows us how big his imagination and hunger for experimenting are, and when you stop for a while and think how much effort he must have put to write this book, it helps you apprecite it better.

The words that end the review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is one of the best and most original books I’ve read. He managed to create a whole new experience in literature.



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