House of Leaves

( 244 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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House of Leaves is a multilayered intersection of wild ideas, ten years in the making, from Mark Danielewski. It is also the story of a seemingly normal house gone wild. The novel intertwines the narratives of two haunted individuals: Zampano, a blind man whose strange manuscript is found in his apartment when he dies, and Johnny Truant, the tome's discoverer and narrator of House of Leaves.

Zampano's manuscript is a critique of a documentary film called "The Navidson Record," by Pulitzer Prize-winning filmmaker Will Navidson. The filmmaker had just moved his family into a house on Ash Tree Lane and hadn't even had the chance to unpack before the strangeness began. Navidson discovered what at first seemed like an odd prank perpetrated by a psychotic carpenter: Behind a closet door, a hallway with smooth black walls had suddenly appeared. This prompted Navidson, ever the pragmatist, to do some measurements. He learned that the inside of the house was larger than the outside. And the hallway did not just remain a hallway—it was growing rapidly, and there was a deep growl emanating from the darkness that was unlike anything he'd ever heard. Partly out of habit, but also sensing that nobody would ever believe his story, Navidson captured everything on film.

Realizing that he was out of his league, Navidson assembled a team of professional hunters and explorers, four fearless men who could navigate any terrain and deal with any physical hardship. Armed with the best high-tech equipment, cameras, and plenty of supplies, they ventured into the dreamlike interior of the house. The discovered that the house was mutating, spawning a web of incredibly complex, pitch-black passageways and cavernous spaces. Dimension and space shifted constantly, becoming fluid and dangerous. The house humbled the team, rendered their equipment useless, and turned them against each other.

Danielewski's descriptions of the explorations of the interior are amazing (think Into Thin Air in a surreal dreamscape). As the house mutates, so does Zampano's manuscript; the text takes on a life of its own, and the layout responds. The film critique is heavily and amazingly footnoted in a way that blurs the line between artifice and reality. The house is completely baffling, Johnny is sliding into madness, and there is something evil that haunted Zampano and the house on Ash Tree Lane and now stalks Johnny. His transformation is also extraordinary: He goes from being an apathetic, hedonistic, eviction-dodging tattoo shop apprentice to a physically wasted, haunted shadow of his former self.

House of Leaves is an incredible blend of mystery, madness, and terror that makes the reader uncomfortable in an entirely new and fascinating way. The novel asks an important question: What are we afraid of? It goes after the deeper origins of fear and stays with us—in our thoughts and dreams—long after we've turned the last page.

Sophie Cottrell


Bleak House

Can a book be a labyrinth? Or, to follow the premise of Mark Z. Danielewski's genre-bending debut, can a book about a book about a film be anything else? House of Leaves is both vast and claustrophobic, crammed with minutiae (footnotes, appendices, poems and letters, and layout trickery) yet cored by a deep, absorbing emptiness, a deliberate void that accommodates, even incorporates, each character's—perhaps even each reader's—expectations, quirks, and fears.

At the novel's heart is "The Navidson Record," a documentary collage made by Will Navidson, prizewinning photographer, of his attempts to explore the impossible. A bizarre hallway—dark, cold, and haunted by a menacing growl—has suddenly appeared in his new home, and within its darkness lies an ominous architecture that mutates, viruslike, with every trip inside, offering a deadly threat to Navidson's wife, Karen, and their young children; to his brother Tom, whose loyalty Navidson abuses; to his friends who become involved in the quest; and finally and most directly, to himself. For Navidson cannot stop his explorations; he can't stop wanting to see.

House of Leaves is also the "book," painstakingly compiled by a strange old man named Zampanò, acquired after his death by Johnny Truant, an apathetic slacker mired in drugs and sad sex. Johnny's obsessive immersion in the manuscript echoes the black-hole threat of the hallway to Navidson; both are caught then consumed by the need to go deeper than safety, or sanity, can support; both will risk their lives in pursuit of the secret of the hallway, and both will be damaged by the experience in ways they cannot anticipate or escape.

Comparisons with The Blair Witch Project will occur to some; others will be reminded of Thomas Pynchon or David Foster Wallace. But Danielewski has done something different: He has remade the haunted house story into a metaphor for dread itself: its smothering darkness, its infinite expansion, the way it takes hold within us, where we think we are most at home. He makes palpable the animal weight of the unknown, terrifying in its formlessness, defined by its ability to morph; he uses perception as a tool to mystify, the building blocks of text to make a structure without walls.

This is definitely not a novel for everyone; the casual reader will find his or her patience strained by the narrative shifts, the heavy footnoting, and the typographic landscape itself. But for readers willing to commit themselves to a skewed adventure, House of Leaves offers an experience of darkness, a walk into Nothing with a camera in our hands.

Library Journal
When Johnny Truant attempts to organize the many fragments of a strange manuscript by a dead blind man, it gains possession of his very soul. The manuscript is a complex commentary on a documentary film (The Navidson Record) about a house that defies all the laws of physics. Navidson's exploration of a seemingly endless, totally dark, and constantly changing labyrinth in the house becomes an examination of truth, perception, and darkness itself. The book interweaves the manuscript with over 400 footnotes to works real and imagined, thus illuminating both the text and Truant's mental disintegration. First novelist Danielewski employs avant-garde page layouts that are occasionally a bit too clever but are generally highly effective. Although it may be consigned to the "horror" genre, this novel is also a psychological thriller, a quest, a literary hoax, a dark comedy, and a work of cultural criticism. It is simultaneously a highly literary work and an absolute hoot. This powerful and extremely original novel is strongly recommended for all public and academic libraries.--Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. Lib., Chico Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kelly
[A] wonderful first novel, House of Leaves, is a vast exploration and meditation on the paradoxical spaces that open out from -- or as -- our awareness. To make sure the word ''meditation'' doesn't daunt you into a coma of respectful abstention, let me say right off that his book is funny, moving, sexy, beautifully told, an elaborate engagement with the shape and meaning of narrative.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375703768
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 16,275
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Z.  Danielewski

Mark Z. Danielewski was born in 1966. House of Leaves is his first novel.

Biography

Mark Z. Danielewski was born in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles. He is the author of House of Leaves and Only Revolutions.

Author biography courtesy of Pantheon Books.

Good To Know

Danielewski is the son of Polish avant-garde film director Tad Danielewski and the brother of singer-songwriter Annie Decatur Danielewski, a.k.a. Poe.

In 2000, Danielewski toured with Poe across America to promote his sister's record Haunted, which mirrors themes in his debut novel, House of Leaves.

He served as an assistant editor of Derrida, a documentary film about the French literary critic and philosopher Jacques Derrida.

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    1. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 5, 1966
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1988; M.F.A., University of Southern California, 1993
    2. Website:

Introduction

The questions, author biography, and suggested reading that follow are intended to enhance your group’s reading and discussion of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. We hope they will provide you with a variety of ways of thinking and talking about this truly challenging and extraordinary book.

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Foreword

1) How did you read the book? Page by page? Zampanò’s text, then Truant’s? What was your reaction to trying to navigate through the book? Confusion? Frustration? Claustrophobia? Terror? Intrigue? How does the form of the novel affect and reflect the emotional and narrative content of the book? How does the experience of reading House of Leaves mirror the experience of the various characters in the novel? In what way (if any) does the reader (and the author, Danielewski) act as a character in the book?

2) What are we to make of Truant’s claim, made early on (p.xx), that everything we are about to read is false? —the movie does not exist, the house does not exist, even many of the references sited in the footnotes do not exist. Is there anything in the book that we know is real, and more essentially, what does “real” mean in the context of a novel / this novel? Does any one of the major characters in the novel even necessarily exist? Zampanò? Truant (the editors point out that they have never met Truant in the flesh (p.4))? Truant’s mother? Navidson? And if the contents of Zampanò’s scrapbook are false, why would any one of the characters imagine not only the documentary The Navidson Record but create fictional evidence, scholarship and commentary of that documentary? How is the answer different when this question is applied to Danielewski, the actual author of House of Leaves?

3) Is House of Leaves a horror story? In what ways does the novel fit the genre? It what ways does it subvert the conventions of the genre? What is the horror in House of Leaves? Can you make anequally persuasive argument that House of Leaves is in fact a love story?

4) Asked to briefly describe House of Leaves, Danielewski has said in an interview that he “likes to look at House of Leaves as a three-character play: a blind old man, a young man, and a very special, extraordinarily gifted woman.” Who is the “extraordinarily gifted woman” in the novel? What are her gifts? Is her role truly as central as the obviously integral roles played by the “blind old man” and the “young man”?

5) Describe Will Navidson as a husband; a father; a brother. “Why did Navidson go back to the house” (p.385)? In what ways do relations change within the Navidson family over the course of The Navidson Record? How does the house affect these relationships? How do these relationships affect the house?

6) Why does Johnny Truant become so consumed by Zampanò’s manuscript? What in particular enthralls him so much – the house? The Navidson Record? The manuscript itself?

7) The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is referenced frequently throughout the book both explicitly and implicitly. In fact, Zampanò has attempted to obliterate all references to Minos and the Minotaur within the text. Truant meanwhile tries to “resurrect” most of these passages (p.111) and later dreams that he is a Minotaur hunted by a drunken frat boy (p.403-406). What is the significance of the Minotaur to the novel? Why does Zampanò cross out all references? And why does Truant then reconstruct them? Another element of the Theseus myth that features prominently is the labyrinth. How does the labyrinth function in the myth? In House of Leaves?

8) One of the major elements of the book’s layout is the use of different fonts. What fonts are used and how are they significant? For instance, Johhny’s text appears in Courier—in what way does Johhny himself act as a “courier”?

9) On page 320, Zampanò appears to have written a typo—“He (Tom) might have spent all night drinking had exhaustion not caught up with me.” Should the “me” be “him”? Why doesn’t Truant point this out as a typo, or is this another one of Truant’s “additions” to The Navidson Record? Is it possible that Zampanò was actually a member of the Navidson family?

10) What are some of the ways that the novel defines and explores the concept of space? In what ways is this concept distorted? How does space change physically, in the house; literally, in the layout of the novel itself; and psychically, in the minds of the characters and between the characters? How do these various spatial changes relate to each other?

11) What does it mean for something to be bigger on the inside than out? Is the Navidson’s house the only thing in the book that can be described that way? Can the novel itself be described that way?

12) Much of the scholarship and commentary on The Navidson Record notes the vaginal quality of the house (for example, the footnote on page 358). In what ways is the house vaginal and/or feminine? How does the consumptive femininity of the house relate to Truant’s (and Navidson’s) dysfunctional relations with the opposite sex? And how are the various female characters throughout the novel presented? Is the novel full of strong women or exploited women? Or both?

13) What are we to make of the death of the baby on pages 518-521, which is the last time we hear from Truant and the only time Truant tells us anything completely in third person? How does this story relate to the Minotaur? Whose baby is it? Could the baby be Truant? What does the passage suggest about Truant’s mother locked away inside “The Whale”?

14) What can we tell about Truant’s relationship with his insane mother, Pelefina Heather Lievre, especially from looking at the Whalestoe Institute Letters? Does she have any relationship to Zampanò? Navidson? Karen? On page 615, one can read the encoded line: “Dear Zampanò, Who did you lose?” This is found in the passage that follows if you take the first letter of each word, spelling “&:” as “and”: …destroyed. Endless arrangements—re: Zealous accommodations, medical prescriptions, & needless other wonders, however obvious—debilitating in deed; you ought understand—letting occur such evil?” Who did Zampanò lose? Why would Truant’s mother ask?

15) How does Johnny’s story end? What is Johnny’s mental state as the book comes to a close? Is the end of Johnny’s story the end of the novel’s story?

16) One of the centerpieces of the novel is a film, and Danielewski has said that film and film criticism were a (if not, the) major influence on the writing of the novel. In what ways would you describe the book as “cinematic”? How is the language of film (high angle, low angle, jump cut, pan, etc.) used in the text and reflected in the scenes chosen and in the layout? Going further, the novel contains references to the work of Fellini (for example, Zampanò shares his name with a character in the film, La Strada). What are the film allusions in the book and how do they inform the story?

17) Danielewski’s sister is the rock singer POE and her album, Haunted, serves, in many ways, as a companion piece to House of Leaves (and vice versa). How do the album and the novel echo, mirror, and distort each other? How does the song “5-Minute Hallway” reflect the themes in the book? How about the two versions of “Hey Pretty”?

18) Danielewski originally self-published House of Leaves on the Internet. In what ways does the novel comment on the Internet and the “information age”? The novel has been called the “first major experimental novel of the new millennium.” In what ways is the novel a product of its times and a comment on its times?

19) The House of Leaves has been published in various editions, including the web edition, the US hardcover, the US softcover, the UK edition, etc. These editions have been different in a number of ways (see “A Note On This Edition” on the copyright page for descriptions of some of these differences). What does the existence of these various editions suggest? More specifically, what do their variations mean?

20) What is the significance of the blue type in the book? In what various ways and to what effect is the blue type used? Why “blue”? And very specifically, why does the word “house” always appear in blue?

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Reading Group Guide

1) How did you read the book? Page by page? Zampanò’s text, then Truant’s? What was your reaction to trying to navigate through the book? Confusion? Frustration? Claustrophobia? Terror? Intrigue? How does the form of the novel affect and reflect the emotional and narrative content of the book? How does the experience of reading House of Leaves mirror the experience of the various characters in the novel? In what way (if any) does the reader (and the author, Danielewski) act as a character in the book?

2) What are we to make of Truant’s claim, made early on (p.xx), that everything we are about to read is false? —the movie does not exist, the house does not exist, even many of the references sited in the footnotes do not exist. Is there anything in the book that we know is real, and more essentially, what does “real” mean in the context of a novel / this novel? Does any one of the major characters in the novel even necessarily exist? Zampanò? Truant (the editors point out that they have never met Truant in the flesh (p.4))? Truant’s mother? Navidson? And if the contents of Zampanò’s scrapbook are false, why would any one of the characters imagine not only the documentary The Navidson Record but create fictional evidence, scholarship and commentary of that documentary? How is the answer different when this question is applied to Danielewski, the actual author of House of Leaves?

3) Is House of Leaves a horror story? In what ways does the novel fit the genre? It what ways does it subvert the conventions of the genre? What is the horror in House of Leaves? Can you make an equally persuasive argument that House of Leaves is in fact a love story?

4) Asked to briefly describe House of Leaves, Danielewski has said in an interview that he “likes to look at House of Leaves as a three-character play: a blind old man, a young man, and a very special, extraordinarily gifted woman.” Who is the “extraordinarily gifted woman” in the novel? What are her gifts? Is her role truly as central as the obviously integral roles played by the “blind old man” and the “young man”?

5) Describe Will Navidson as a husband; a father; a brother. “Why did Navidson go back to the house” (p.385)? In what ways do relations change within the Navidson family over the course of The Navidson Record? How does the house affect these relationships? How do these relationships affect the house?

6) Why does Johnny Truant become so consumed by Zampanò’s manuscript? What in particular enthralls him so much – the house? The Navidson Record? The manuscript itself?

7) The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is referenced frequently throughout the book both explicitly and implicitly. In fact, Zampanò has attempted to obliterate all references to Minos and the Minotaur within the text. Truant meanwhile tries to “resurrect” most of these passages (p.111) and later dreams that he is a Minotaur hunted by a drunken frat boy (p.403-406). What is the significance of the Minotaur to the novel? Why does Zampanò cross out all references? And why does Truant then reconstruct them? Another element of the Theseus myth that features prominently is the labyrinth. How does the labyrinth function in the myth? In House of Leaves?

8) One of the major elements of the book’s layout is the use of different fonts. What fonts are used and how are they significant? For instance, Johhny’s text appears in Courier—in what way does Johhny himself act as a “courier”?

9) On page 320, Zampanò appears to have written a typo—“He (Tom) might have spent all night drinking had exhaustion not caught up with me.” Should the “me” be “him”? Why doesn’t Truant point this out as a typo, or is this another one of Truant’s “additions” to The Navidson Record? Is it possible that Zampanò was actually a member of the Navidson family?

10) What are some of the ways that the novel defines and explores the concept of space? In what ways is this concept distorted? How does space change physically, in the house; literally, in the layout of the novel itself; and psychically, in the minds of the characters and between the characters? How do these various spatial changes relate to each other?

11) What does it mean for something to be bigger on the inside than out? Is the Navidson’s house the only thing in the book that can be described that way? Can the novel itself be described that way?

12) Much of the scholarship and commentary on The Navidson Record notes the vaginal quality of the house (for example, the footnote on page 358). In what ways is the house vaginal and/or feminine? How does the consumptive femininity of the house relate to Truant’s (and Navidson’s) dysfunctional relations with the opposite sex? And how are the various female characters throughout the novel presented? Is the novel full of strong women or exploited women? Or both?

13) What are we to make of the death of the baby on pages 518-521, which is the last time we hear from Truant and the only time Truant tells us anything completely in third person? How does this story relate to the Minotaur? Whose baby is it? Could the baby be Truant? What does the passage suggest about Truant’s mother locked away inside “The Whale”?

14) What can we tell about Truant’s relationship with his insane mother, Pelefina Heather Lievre, especially from looking at the Whalestoe Institute Letters? Does she have any relationship to Zampanò? Navidson? Karen? On page 615, one can read the encoded line: “Dear Zampanò, Who did you lose?” This is found in the passage that follows if you take the first letter of each word, spelling “&:” as “and”: …destroyed. Endless arrangements—re: Zealous accommodations, medical prescriptions, & needless other wonders, however obvious—debilitating in deed; you ought understand—letting occur such evil?” Who did Zampanò lose? Why would Truant’s mother ask?

15) How does Johnny’s story end? What is Johnny’s mental state as the book comes to a close? Is the end of Johnny’s story the end of the novel’s story?

16) One of the centerpieces of the novel is a film, and Danielewski has said that film and film criticism were a (if not, the) major influence on the writing of the novel. In what ways would you describe the book as “cinematic”? How is the language of film (high angle, low angle, jump cut, pan, etc.) used in the text and reflected in the scenes chosen and in the layout? Going further, the novel contains references to the work of Fellini (for example, Zampanò shares his name with a character in the film, La Strada). What are the film allusions in the book and how do they inform the story?

17) Danielewski’s sister is the rock singer POE and her album, Haunted, serves, in many ways, as a companion piece to House of Leaves (and vice versa). How do the album and the novel echo, mirror, and distort each other? How does the song “5-Minute Hallway” reflect the themes in the book? How about the two versions of “Hey Pretty”?

18) Danielewski originally self-published House of Leaves on the Internet. In what ways does the novel comment on the Internet and the “information age”? The novel has been called the “first major experimental novel of the new millennium.” In what ways is the novel a product of its times and a comment on its times?

19) The House of Leaves has been published in various editions, including the web edition, the US hardcover, the US softcover, the UK edition, etc. These editions have been different in a number of ways (see “A Note On This Edition” on the copyright page for descriptions of some of these differences). What does the existence of these various editions suggest? More specifically, what do their variations mean?

20) What is the significance of the blue type in the book? In what various ways and to what effect is the blue type used? Why “blue”? And very specifically, why does the word “house” always appear in blue?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 244 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(160)

4 Star

(38)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 244 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    House of Leaves

    Though I was warned, by reading the sleeve, that this would be experimental reading, nothing could have prepared me for the trip this book took me in. By far, this is the most fun I have had reading a book, literally. And when they used the word experimental to describe it, they were not using it lightly, I have read nothing like it in my life.<BR/><BR/>The story is actually a series of embedded stories, told by the person, who writes the introduction to the book, named Johnny Truant, who finds the actual book, written by Zampano, which is the body of the work. So essentially, you are reading a story about a man reading a story and following the two in tandem. But its a bit more complicated than that, because the story Johnny has found which is written by Zampano, is actually an over the top, study of a film which does not exist, which in `Blair Witch-esqe¿ fashion, tells the story of a family that moves into a house, only to find out that the house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Much bigger.<BR/><BR/>The complexity of the stories is further multiplied by the fact that half of it is the work you are reading, and the other half told through foot notes, which in turn have their own foot notes, apendixes, drawings and exhibits which they reference. In a most unusual way, through poetry and prose, you are taken in a bizarre ride through the most unusual house you ever heard of. The study providing so much detail about this movie that you essentially feel like you have watched the movie yourself¿oh, and I should probably mention, Zampano is blind. It begs the question, how did he see the movie to begin with? Or was it even a movie?<BR/><BR/>Prepare yourself to tear this book apart and truly interact with this book. This book reads in pages, columns, spirals, upside down, single words, geometrical and asymmetrical arrangements, footnotes, poetry, letters, sideways, on diagonals¿upside down on diagonals and hanging. You will find yourself going from page seven to page four hundred and back only to be forced to go back to the end before you can continue with the beginning. It is a book that covers so many writing styles and approaches it actually may test some people¿s patience, but it pays off in the richness of its characters and the thrill the actual story provides, at some points forcing you to do your own detective work and not leave a single foot note unscratched regardless of how unimportant it may seem.<BR/><BR/>If you are tired of reading books from cover to cover, if you ever really wanted to engross yourself in a book, this is the book for you.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    ...and you call yourself my friend??

    A friend gave me this book raving about how strange, unique, and frightening it was. About 70 pages in I realized that I'd rather experience a brain aneurysm than finish this book and, indeed, felt like this book was well on the way to inducing one in me. A good story does not have to try this hard to be unique and original. But that's just my opinion. The bad news is that this is one of three books in the many I've read that I was not able to finish because I thought it was that bad. The good news is that I forgave my friend for subjecting me to it and we ARE still friends.

    6 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2008

    incredible

    One of the best books I have ever read. This book was recommended to me as 'the scariest book I'll ever read' - there are indeed some parts that are creepy, but this is definitely no easy-reading thriller, and the book goes way beyond just trying to scare you. The opening warns you about the possibility of nightmares if you keep reading, and while I did not exactly experience nightmares, there were a few times I woke up from sleep after a late-night read realizing in near delirium that I am deliberating the contents and meaning of the book in my sleep. A must read, but not while you have important business to take care of. This book will affect you.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2008

    The only thing scary about this book was its price.

    I am a long standing fan of horror/supernatural novels, and after I'd read reviews, I thought I'd fork over the money to buy this book. The only interesting thing about this book was the layout of upside down/sideways/sometimes red, sometimes black text. It was not scary, was boring, and was tedious to read. Try something else. I'd give it 4 YAWNS.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    A truly original book for jaded readers

    House of Leaves is a book for those who truly love to think and read. As the novel progresses, there are times when the reader has to figure out how they will go about reading. I loved having to figure out that I needed a mirror to read certain texts. I felt proud of myself when I figured out that I had to read certain parts of the book in a different order to understand what it meant.
    The story itself is fascinating, even without the puzzle-like presentation. The idea of an ever-growing house that becomes a character itself reminds me a little of The Fall of the House of Usher and House of the Seven Gables. While I love reading longer novels, I know many would find the length and effort to decipher some of the text off-putting. It does take a while to read, so if it was for a book club I'm not sure people would have time to read it within shorter periods. Too long for a rainy day, as well.
    Overall, it has become one of my favorite books, and I certainly recommend it to anyone who listens.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2009

    Worse than postmodern: pointless.

    HOUSE OF LEAVES is a postmodern horror novel by Mark Dalielewski which, unless I am mistaken, was first published on the internet and which gained a cult following, to at last be published traditionally, with original different typefaces, colors, and orientations.

    It is in essence two (or three) stories in one: ostensibly, the transcribed tale of a haunted house, as recorded by those who lived here. That story is fascinating and somewhat original, if seemingly unresolved.

    However, unfortunately, that tale is overlaid with the story of the person who finds the notes of the original transcriber. With the transparent name of Johnny Truant, he is vulgar, drugged-out, insipid, and completely off the track of the main narrative. His slow descent into madness does not actually seem connected to his work with the notes, and also seems reasonless as far as the reader can tell. Mostly, we suffer through stories of his many....many....MANY.... pointless and graphic one-night stands.

    I'm nowhere near done reading, but OMG it is getting annoying. What started out interesting--the feeling that the book was itself a journey, wending slowly to an unknown end--has become frustrating at pg.150 when I feel like I have been reading for-EV-er and not getting any closer to anything....further and further from reality, which of course is the point, but oh my GOD do we really need 7 pages on the etymology of the word "echo," scratched-out meditations on the Theseus myth, pages after pages of listed buildings, upside-down pages of films? The reader has to turn the book upside-down, read backward, squint, etc. to come away with....NOTHING. It's just annoying at this point.

    Worse than postmodern: pointless.

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2011

    Huge Disappointment

    I can just see Danielewski sitting in Starbuck's with his laptop, letting people watch him write this book. That's just the kind of writing this is - it's meant to be observed by people who are into any kind of new and striking fad.

    What I can't believe is the amount of paper something like this wastes. I'm not saying that just to be cruel - it consists of probably one-third blank space. I get the metaphor, but this seems ridiculous, to say the least.

    I was excited when I read everyone's reviews - it sounded intriguing and fun and new. What I got was a bunch of convoluted tripe that didn't amount to much of anything. I won't lie - I can't possibly make myself finish this book. I don't care about any of the characters, I don't sympathize with anyone, and the plot is so slow just to catch up with the book cover that any hope it had for suspense is gone. The concept of a place that is bigger inside than out was brilliantly mastered in the 80's by the creators of Dr. Who, and it didn't need any additions, certainly not by someone who thinks that analytical essays make for good fiction.

    I am completely bummed out.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2010

    Leaves you fulfilled in a hollow way

    Danielewski's opus elliptically savors of H.P. Lovecraft - an interdimensional cavort into incomprehensible space and time. The horror here reflects like a spike of blue in a chamber of obsidian mirrors.

    At times ponderous, this genre-defying book - part horror, part literary, part romance, part suspense - possesses a dark luminescence that vindicates the long journey.

    As stated in a poem by Zapano, the putative narrator of one part of the book: "This great blue world of ours / seems a house of leaves / moments before the wind."

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Most interesting book I've read in a long time

    The way this book is written makes it hard to follow at times, but it also helps draw you into the story more completely. The concept behind the plot is great and the characters are well thought out and easily related to. It is quite long and will take a while to get through, but if you read it you will feel for the characters and get a real sense of what they felt when they were encountering the relentless hallways.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2000

    A Thick Shuffle of Toilet Tissue

    The comparison of this book to the Blair Witch Project is not inaccurate, in that it tries to be innovative and creative but fails horribly, and only ends up being rather empty and unsatisfying. To begin with, the idea of a fictional study based on make-believe tapes of the Navidson record, is new and interesting. Execution of it, however, falls far far short of good story telling. The meat of the story takes up only a small portion of the book. The rest of the space in the book is filled with journal type entries of a character called Johnny Truant (nothing to do with the house), and intermissions of junk that have again, nothing to do with the story. Danielewski wants you to know that he's capable of quoting Jung, Freud, Homer, and in different languages, too. Most people who tell me they've read the book and liked it, have enjoyed it because it's an innovative and 'hip', bauhaus attempt at presenting a story. They also like it because of the superfluous material. Sort of like, 'if it's hard to understand, it must be good'. However, this book isn't so hard to understand. It's simply tedious to read. It never picks up, never gets scary or creepy, and never fills the hunger a discerning reader feels when s/he picks up a book. If anything, the subplots distract like hell, and Danielewski's 'gimmick' attempts at creating certain effects, like clever text placement, upside words, mirror-imaged paragraphs, annoy more than anything else. Now if I can just find that receipt so I can return it...

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Confusing

    This book began in a very interesting way & slowly morphed into a mass of confusion. It seems that this should be TWO separate books. Also, at times, one gets the idea that the writer was on some sort of drug! ( As in acid trip! Seriously, the book had to be turned upside down to read some of the pages & some of the writting was done in spirals for no apparent reason)
    I have yet to finish the book- only read about half of it before putting it down in frustration. Too much "extras"! While the story of the expanding house was fascinating, the writting style was just too odd for my taste. I will most likely go back & finish it eventually, just to see how the family ends up. However, I would have enjoyed this so much more had it been written in a normal way!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    WOW - A real journey.

    Like many others, I was warned by friends and the book jacket that reading this book would be... different. I was STILL baffled at the complexity and reward this book offered with each new confusing page.

    The best advice for tackling this beast:

    1) Keep a dictionary and a glass of water on hand. The language is complex, and the first half of the book is D-R-Y.

    2) PLOW THROUGH THE DRY FIRST HALF. The second half is incredibly compelling, confusing, and rich with imagery.

    3) Allow yourself to get lost in the footnotes. It's part of the experience!

    Mark Z. Danielewski took 10 years to write this book so dive in and give it the time it deserves. I promise that when you finish, you'll happily wait another 10 years for something else that even comes close.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2008

    This is not for you.

    Ten years in the making, the dual stories of Will Navidson and his house that's larger on the inside than the outside, and Johnny Truant with his descent into madness while organizing the scraps of The Navidson Record, are simply amazing. Textual layouts designed in ways to mirror the events occurring within the pages, hidden codes throughout the story give birth to possibilities you might overlook otherwise ''...no homie at all''. House of Leaves is a monumental achievement of modern literature, and a book that everyone should take the time to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2007

    Absolutely Mind-Blowing

    House of Leaves takes you on a trip past the easily comprehensible fears that are found in most horror books: death, crime, terror, and brings you to a place where the unknown isn't just one thing. It twists into many, shifting and changing like the subject of this book itself. Layered with complexity, House of Leaves is built upon a totally different and new idea. The author brilliantly uses many different presentations to the reader to convey what soon becomes an almost overwhelmingly confusing and new idea of horror. This book does not just change your perception of what a terrifying book should be...It may even change your view of life. I've said enough- if you enjoy a challenging read, you should give House of Leaves a try. But, as the first line of the book says, 'This is not for you.' Take caution...it may be true.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2007

    outstanding first work.

    a lot of people view the style and subject matter to be daunting, even boring from some i've spoken to. although the first 8 chapters seem to be all scientific facts and theories, the navidson report, and even johnny truant's story were engaging, and almost the whole time very frightening. it's a book that plays the idea of solitude, nyctophobia, and even claustrophobia to extremes, and the ideas of being hunted by that which you cannot see. some may see the book as trying too hard to be overly artistic in its representation, but mind you that some of the greatest writers, and directors of our time had ideas and views that a majority of people thought as unconventional. definitely give it a try.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2007

    Incredible Modern Classic

    This is from someone who reads mainly classics: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, etc. I don't remember how I found out about House of Leaves, but I thank god I did. There is really no good way to describe the book. It's a book about a book about a book about a film that never existed...I think. I told my son about it when he was in 8th grade. He read it 'the longest book he'd ever read' and is now reading it for the second or third time. I have read it at least 3 times, and am heading for the fourth. The big question is, what is there about the book that grabs us so much? I'm not sure. Obviously, for a Jane Austen fan, Johnny Truant is an odd hero. But the book is an incredible roller coaster you simply don't want to get off. Give it a try, you WON'T be sorry. P.S. I also love Poe, but I found her after the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2006

    Indeed it does give you nightmares...

    A great book, I stopped reading it in the PM. Shook me up and made me socially disfunctional for a few days. Nuts. Read this when you know your not going to do anything of importance. Not for the light heart because of the total pshycological effects of the new fear of closets. Recommended to adults not a child's book in the least.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2005

    Amazing

    This book was the single best book I have ever read. It was disturbing arousing frighteneing and never boring. This is the sort of book that never loses its charm.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2005

    Stunning

    One of the best, and most haunting novels I have ever read. I cannot praise this book highly enough, but dare not write too much more for fear of spoiling this amazing novel. The novel is a peice of experimental fiction. The author wrote it following the death of his father. His sister, Songwriter and performer Poe simaltaneously wrote her sophmore CD, 'Haunted.' Though Haunted stands on its own as a CD chronocling a girl's turmoil following the death of her father, it was also written to correspond to the book. It works on two levels, and so does the book. The book, a horror story written as a review of a film that was never made is humoress, gripping, and terrifiying. The book starts by indicating that it is a work of fiction, but that this does not matter, the effects would be the same. True.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2005

    Extraordinary

    House of Leaves is the best book I have ever read, hands down! No other book has ever made me so excited to keep turning the pages. I was aroused, anxious, terrified, and nervous all at the same time. I enjoyed every page. I was able to interact with the book because of the way the words were written on each page. I was never bored with it. In one word: EXTRAORDINARY!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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