"House of Leaves" is not a book, it's an experience. Mark Z. Danielewski grabs your attention, distorts your reality, makes you question your own sanity, then leaves you spent, disoriented and not quite the same as when you started this novel.
It opens with a brooding, inventive and unreliable narrator Johnny Truant. Johnny brings us along as he discovers a trunk of papers inside the apartment of a recently deceased man, Zampano, who died under suspicious circumstances. The trunk contains Zampano's collection and commentary of academic dissections of a documentary film, the Navidson Record. The Navidson Record is the axis of the story-within-a-story-within-a-story framework of the book, and documents the increasingly surreal and quietly horrific experience of a family who comes home to find a door that hadn't existed before. As Johnny reads through the papers and commentary he finds that Zampano, and perhaps he himself, is losing his grip on sanity as his obsession with the house grows deeper and deeper.
The storyline of "House of Leaves" is only a piece of the overall experience. The book's structure lends an additional layer of depth to this literary collage. The labyrinthine narrative is framed by an equally dizzying array of footnotes, lists and lists of names, texts that need to be decoded, texts that wind around the page... all of which are riddled with bland passages of intense academic discourse. Although some would argue that the layout of the book is pretentious and ostentatious, I think it's a necessary part of the overall artwork. "House of Leaves" is not an easy book to read, but it's worth the experience.
The book contains a large appendix which needs to be read thoroughly in order to get as much sense of the story as possible. This book is really like a collage, and like a collage, you can't look at each individual piece... you have to look at how all the pieces fit together. If you can make it through the layers of stories, ivory tower discourses, chaotic layout and haunting images, then take a step back and look again. I get the feeling the book will mean something different to you than it did to me. Review by Deanna Josephson
Pretty cool tale of a guy, who falls into a time abyss, sporadically intersected with fourth dimensional planes - which stretches him along the craziest cosmological lines, and makes him thoroughly confused. I wonder why.
I can read such stories by the dozen, not tiring a bit: a gradual descent into unknown ocean depths, many kilometers of weird darkness and monsters... with stars and planets at the end... what?! Well, don't ask, really crazy idea, I know. review: 25-Dec-07 (read in 2007)
Very normal, but not bad - even emotional. Two marooned spacemen debate should they go on to the stars; being in a hopeless situation, they choose exploring over slow death. review: 09-Aug-06 (read in 2005)
Very quaint & stylish story - true conneseuirs of art will have experienced the power that an extraordinary painting can hold over the sense of space and time; it's possible to spend hours in Hermitage, taken captive by only a few old Dutch masters' landscapes... Typical high-class F&SF story. review: 30-Jan-08 (read in 1988)
Improbable find! A writer unknown to me, a name I have not seen mentioned anywhere in SF - and a story to die for. There is just no better treatment of the "future of spam and door-to-door sales" than in this sizzling gem. The irony of the main idea (concentrated in just over three pages) strikes amazingly close to home, as our telemarketer-saturated, spam-blighted existence clearly testifies. A well-to-do couple in an "american dream" suburb have to turn themselves into veritable soldiers to effectively battle and say "No" to sales guys and their high-tech pitches. Using emotional and psycho-enhancements is the norm in "cultivating" prospective clients, so an average housewife has to shield her mind by even more advanced methods and beat them at their own game. I have to admit, I was simply blown away by the story, and the intensity of its writing. Bravo. review: 23-Jul-06 (read in 2006)
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