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House of Leaves Paperback – March 7, 2000
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Now that we've reached the post-postmodern era, presumably there's nobody left who needs liberating from the strictures of conventional fiction. So apart from its narrative high jinks, what does House of Leaves have to offer? According to Johnny Truant, the tattoo-shop apprentice who discovers Zampanò's work, once you read The Navidson Record,
For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how.We'll have to take his word for it, however. As it's presented here, the description of the spooky film isn't continuous enough to have much scare power. Instead, we're pulled back into Johnny Truant's world through his footnotes, which he uses to discharge everything in his head, including the discovery of the manuscript, his encounters with people who knew Zampanò, and his own battles with drugs, sex, ennui, and a vague evil force. If The Navidson Record is a mad professor lecturing on the supernatural with rational-seeming conviction, Truant's footnotes are the manic student in the back of the auditorium, wigged out and furiously scribbling whoa-dude notes about life.
Despite his flaws, Truant is an appealingly earnest amateur editor--finding translators, tracking down sources, pointing out incongruities. Danielewski takes an academic's--or ex-academic's--glee in footnotes (the similarity to David Foster Wallace is almost too obvious to mention), as well as other bogus ivory-tower trappings such as interviews with celebrity scholars like Camille Paglia and Harold Bloom. And he stuffs highbrow and pop-culture references (and parodies) into the novel with the enthusiasm of an anarchist filling a pipe bomb with bits of junk metal. House of Leaves may not be the prettiest or most coherent collection, but if you're trying to blow stuff up, who cares? --John Ponyicsanyi
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
All of this quite intrigued me. So I bought the book and read it over a period of about six months. It's not a quick read, or at least it wasn't for me. I had to have other, more normal, sane books going on at the same time. "House of Leaves" is over seven hundred pages long and it's loaded with literary detour signs, unespected landmines (some duds, some live), and good old "holding the book upside down in a mirror so you can read the words printed that way" fun.
"House of Leaves" is a contortionist's daydream, and a conservative reader's nightmare. I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and found myself admiring the new unhallowed ground Danielewski was breaking, but at other times longing for a more conventional, satisfying structure.
This whole thing is very postmodern. The house is aware of itself as a house, and the book is aware of itself as a book. There is a story of a family moving into a house, trying to sort out its interpersonal demons, and finding that the insides of things (lives, minds, houses) can often be darker, scarier, stranger, and more convoluted than they would appear from the outsides.
That alone would have made a great book, told with inventive language and a compelling psychological subtext.
But that's just the beginning, the backstory really. "House of Leaves" is a story inside a story inside a story, etc. In fact, it puts the dizzying structure of Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" to shame.Read more ›
This is definitely a challenging read, in that it demands your full attention. In a couple places, it tells you to skip to the appendices and read a certain section, then return to where you were. The narrative goes back and forth between Johnny Truant's first person narrative (told in sections and footnotes) of how the book, by an elderly blind man who lived in his apartment complex and may not have been entirely sane, came into his possession and what it has done to his mind and his life, and the story told by the blind man about...about...you know, this is really a hard book for me to describe. It has stories within stories, about 800 different typefaces (it must have driven the typesetters, or whoever did the formatting at the publishing house, crazy) and formats that include interviews, bibliographiess, letters, transcripts, and even a section where there are just photographs of different scraps of paper.Read more ›
If you're like me and don't usually use words such as "metafiction" and "no vivifying center," I just want to say, the book was a total hoot. At times trying, yes. But so is Monty Python--I think it takes that experimental attitude to reach the breakthrough stuff. Contrary to other reviewers, I found the central narrative genuinely eerie, much more so than anything I've read by Steven King or Dean Koontz. In some places I was turning the pages breathlessly. At the same time, I found myself chuckling with delight at pages that are typeset to match the scenes they describe. For example, in one scene where explorers are hopelessly lost, the pages feature dense footnotes in random columns -- some even printed upside-down, some backwards. As you try to puzzle out what to read next, you suddenly realize you are experiencing some of the same disorientation as the explorers. I think this is just plain old fun. The author purposely interrupts the story in places to frustrate you; saves some of the best stuff for obscure appendixes (be sure to read the letters from Johnny Truant's institutionalized Mom); and generally challenges your assumptions about what a book is supposed to do or be. At the same time, for the most part he delivers the goods in the old-fashioned narrative sense.
So, yeah, it takes a little work to read, and it's not conventional, and it's not perfect. But it's ORIGINAL. I'm REALLY glad I bought it. I enjoyed it a ton, and the emotions of the book continue to resonate with me days after finishing it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Haven't gotten very far, due to other readings that are on my plate (school...) but am enjoying the voice in House of Leaves. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Snick
I don't normally review books, so I am not really sure of the information readers may need to purchase this book, but I would highly recommend it. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a hard one for me to get through. It's so crazy. A complete mind-job.Published 12 days ago by Converse&Roses
Extremely weird and convoluted but fun to try to follow along. Not for the feint of heart or casual reader. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to like it. As others have said, it seems like a lot of the book is style over substance. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
Such a strange book. The story is amazingly gripping. The way it is laid out actually enhances the feeling of getting drawn into the House. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Amazon Customer