While reading this I'd like to direct your attention to a short EP a friend of mine made inspired by the novel discussed below. Here's the link. Press play and continue reading.
When a book starts out by saying, "
," you'll end up asking yourself, "why?" But that's a question that'll end up pushing you down a rabbit hole once you turn that first page. Let me introduce to you Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, a typographical adventure of a novel that'll leave you in love as much as you'll be unnerved.
It's been a while since I've read this novel, two or three years I'd say, but for some reason my mind keeps wandering back to it. If I were to pin a reason for that wandering, I'd stick it onto Danielewski's use of typography as a storytelling element. I'm not lying when I say that half the novel is one giant footnote. I'm not lying when I say that when you turn the page it might not be the next page you should be reading. I'm not lying when I say that at some point you'll want to stop reading in the middle of the novel to read a completely different novel within the novel. House of Leaves doesn't try to comfort you when you need to be. It'll throw you into textual mazes and puzzles, and fall apart when you most need everything to stick together.
The narrative is a complicated but essentially the novel is the restoration of an academic journal that analyzes a group of films about a house that appears bigger from the inside than from the outside. It includes countless fictional references to other novels, notes from the initial restoration, notes from the restoration of that restoration, and another novel that functions as a companion to this one. The novel is an interesting exercise in separation from the initial story to the point that the idea of the book going through a publishing company is part of the narrative.
|Here's a nice map of the degrees of separation in the novel.|
Me writing about this book as another degree of separation.
In regards to the plot, there are three main stories. First you have the discovery of a house that doesn't appear to be just a house. It's a horror story a tale of distress and discovery. Second you have the first restoration of the academic writings. This piece of the novel is a story of hopelessness as you watch a man, Zampano go mad through his analysis of the first films of the house. Finally you have the second restoration of the story. Here we follow Johnny who's trying to find love in a stripper who goes by the name Thumper. He's trying to restore Zampano's notes and in the process also loses touch with reality. All three of these stories run contingently and center around the house which appears to be a force that deteriorates everyone's life no matter how separated they are from the initial event (Note image above). Maybe that's why I'm a little wonky.