Wednesday, October 16, 2013

House of Leaves

Justin Fetters
Continuing the theme of amazingly creepy books is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. Your reading life is not complete until you've read this book. You may think I'm being overly dramatic, but this book changed the way I think about books and writing.

I drank the Koolaid, and it tastes good.

I picked this book up back in 2007 at the behest of Marie (sidenote: always trust Marie), and I set it aside pretty quickly, making it no more than a few pages in. I mentioned this to Marie a couple of months later, and she convinced me to give it another chance. Her primary advice was to follow the footnotes and to do everything they said. It's six years later, and it still ranks among my favorite books.

House of Leaves presents two interwoven narratives. The main body of the book is Zampano's tale as told through his critique of a documentary by filmmaker Will Navidson. Navidson and his family move into a house that is mysteriously larger on the inside than it is on the outside. The house seems to shift and morph around them, adding never-ending passageways that creak and groan, seeming to have a life of its own. Navidson pulls together a team of explorer filmmakers to plumb the depths with him and to discover what is waiting on the other end. Narrating Zampano's critique (and the book) is Johnny Truant, the one who discovered Zampano's document and notes after he passed away. As each work their way through the materials and the story of this film and house, their grasp on their own reality grows evermore thin.

What Danielewski does with narrative and layout is nothing short of amazing, dragging you into the confusing depths of the human psyche. I want to take you inside Danielewski's House, dissect it and tell you why it was so groundbreaking at the time, but I know I'll never be able to do it justice. Just do me a favor. Pick up a hard copy of the book (it's not available as an e-book and would just never really work anyway), and give it a chance...a real chance. You'll want to quit, but this one is worth a little sweat.


  1. sidenote: always trust Marie

    I don't know, Marie told me to read the Da Vinci Code and that was ...not good.

    Also, have you ever listened to Poe's Haunted album? Apparently it has a lot to do with this book.

    1. Hahaha re Da Vinci Code. Touche.

      I've listed to parts of the album (around the time I was reading the book). Evidently, she's the author's sister.

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