As I closed this book, things that washed over me were 1. relief and 2. a terrible headache. I had heard of this book, from a very muffled murmur of being a “horror book,” so I was quite eager to order the book and begin what was to later be known as “quite the cumbersome and lugubrious read.” A week later, as I received a heavy package in the mail, I tore through the cardboard and bubble wrap that unveiled a heavy 700+ page book. Further on, I curled in bed ready to embark, only to put it down 1 hour later.
House of Leaves isn’t easy, and many times I put the book down and it took me months to finally finish it. There is a lot- and I don’t think I was fully prepared for the mind warp I experienced. Mark Z. Danielewski wrote a hell of a novel (can we even call it that?). House of Leaves is much more a experience than simply a book. There are many reactions to the novel/story, but mostly all of them refer to the book as going into a maze blind with arms tied back. Satisfied that I finished House of Leaves, it definitely goes into my archive as strangest novels I have read thus far.
The walls are endlessly bare. Nothing hangs on them, nothing defines them. They without texture. Even to the keenest eye or most sentient fingertip, they remain unreadable. You will never find a mark there/ No trace survives. The walls obliterate everything.
House of Leaves is a story of a house that is ultimately larger in the inside than It is on the outside. When photojournalist Will Navidson moves in with his wife Karen and two kids, they too discover the oddities that lie beneath the house. They use a series of Hi 8s and special camera to document the growing insides of the house. The documentation of the house has turned into a cult classic with hundreds of people looking into the dark rooms of the foreboding Navidson house. This later turns into texts, essays, analysis, interviews, etc., all attempting uncovering the mystery of a family and the house they lived in.
Zooming out, the completed story of the Navidson house is actually compiled by a now deceased man by the name of Zampano. Zooming even further out is the incredibly unreliable narrator Johnny Truent, who stumbles upon the analysis of the House of Leaves created by Zampano. We follow the blurred lines and endless mutter of tales and mishaps of Johnny who does a sort of dissertation of the House of Leaves compilation. Johnny’s past is dark just like house the readers discover. Later in the book we experience the same feeling of disorientation and complete lost as the novel twists and turns (literally) and unfold page after page of madness. By the end we are left stripped of answers, grasping to make sense of the novel with a bottomless hole.
This book was quite to load to read. As I mentioned before, I put this book down several times as I was often on and off losing interest. It wasn’t until I forced myself to finish the blasted book that I tore through the pages and then closed it with sheer relief and happiness. House of Leaves wasn’t my favorite read at all, but I have read worse. It is extremely smart and brilliant and for that alone, I have to give Danielewski all the praise. This book is extremely ambitious, but it was successfully created. I wasn’t really “scared” as some people have been by the book. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some creepy parts of the novel, that gave me a few raised hairs on my arm, but it wasn’t as “horror-ish” as it was hyped to be. I believe it was more of a psychological thriller than anything. To be honest, I only enjoyed the action-y bits of the book where the people interacted with the house (not going to give away spoilers). I’m happy I read this, just for the sake of reading it, but I would give this book a 3 out of 5 for pure literature sake. For creativity and innovation, definitely a 5 out of 5, anyone that can write a mind puzzle novel deserves many accolades. Would I recommend this? Well….if you’re up for a challenge and okay will feeling unsatisfied on a whole, I say go for it! But you’ve been warned!
Have any of you read House of Leaves? What are your thoughts?