House of Leaves

House of Leaves

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,...

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Title:House of Leaves
Author:Mark Z. Danielewski
Rating:
Edition Language:English

House of Leaves Reviews

  • Jake Thomas

    So there's a definite cult around this book, and I am one of the many who drank the Kool-Aide and never looked back.

    Here's a little anecdote that speaks to the possibilities of this book:

    I was an RA my junior and senior years of college. One year I had a good friend of mine living in my building, and upon one of her visits to my room I put The House of Leaves in her hand, telling her that she should read it. A couple of days later I was in my room, awake at some unholy hour due to my vampiric s

    So there's a definite cult around this book, and I am one of the many who drank the Kool-Aide and never looked back.

    Here's a little anecdote that speaks to the possibilities of this book:

    I was an RA my junior and senior years of college. One year I had a good friend of mine living in my building, and upon one of her visits to my room I put The House of Leaves in her hand, telling her that she should read it. A couple of days later I was in my room, awake at some unholy hour due to my vampiric sleep schedule, and there's a knock at my door. As an RA this is a rather unsettling experience. On the other side of that door could be a drug overdose, suicide attempt, food poisoning or any other host of problems we're warned about as RAs. So tentatively I open the door and am relieved to find that it is not some horrific medical emergency, but simply my friend. Except my friend looks haggard. Her hair is unkempt, there are bags under her eyes and she is slouched forward, breaking her usually quite nice posture. In her hand is The House of Leaves. We stand there, silently measuring each other up, and then my friend rears back and throws the book at me, then walks away. Such behavior is not terribly unusual for this friend of mine, so I make a note to ask about this later and then go back to bed.

    The next day I call up my friend and ask her what exactly was the deal. "I hadn't slept in two days," she said. "That damn book kept me awake. I couldn't finish it, I couldn't sleep with it in the room, I had to get rid of it. That book fucked me up." To this day she still can't bring herself to finish reading the book. And so.

    The book has an amazing way of crawling beneath your skin and taking root. When I read it my sleep schedule, already astoundingly bad, became even more irregular and bizarro. I started looking at things differently. The world changed. Not in any big way, but there was a definite shift, and that's the way this book works. It comes at you sideways. People who just see it as a gimmick, in my opinion, are trying to hit the book straight on when you just have to give into it. It's like music, which isn't surprising seeing as how Mark Z. Danielewski's sister is the recording artist Poe, who came up with her album Haunted in tandem with Danielewski's writing of House of Leaves.

    There are sections of this book I found so surprising and affecting that I had to put it down and give myself a minute to take in what I'd read and go over it in my mind. Every person I've ever met who has read this book has had something to say about it, something more personal than just "Oh yeah, I liked that," or "It's overhyped." There's a visceral reaction this book can elicit, and I find that fascinating.

    I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and she mentioned something David Mamet said once, something along the lines of "When you leave the theater wanting to discuss the play, that's a good play. When you leave the theater wanting to discuss your life and the world, that's art." I like that definition, and I think it applies to House of Leaves. Conversations about this book never stay on the book, they branch out into other areas and interests, they can't help but grow longer and deeper, not entirely unlike a five minute hallway.

  • Wil Wheaton

    If you want a really good, insightful review of House of Leaves (that I didn't write), go

    If you want to read mine, here you go:

    House of Leaves isn't one of those tidy little things that holds your hand and wipes your bottom and tells you that you're special. It makes you work, and what you get out of it depends largely on how much work you're willing to do. House of Leaves is difficult at times, incredibly complex, occasionally pretentious, and

    If you want a really good, insightful review of House of Leaves (that I didn't write), go

    If you want to read mine, here you go:

    House of Leaves isn't one of those tidy little things that holds your hand and wipes your bottom and tells you that you're special. It makes you work, and what you get out of it depends largely on how much work you're willing to do. House of Leaves is difficult at times, incredibly complex, occasionally pretentious, and

    .

    When I finished it, I thought I was unsatisfied with

    , but it

    in me long after I closed the book. I could not stop thinking about the characters, the puzzles, my various theories about the nature of the story and

    Here's the thing about House of Leaves: you can enjoy it simply as a horrifying story that could possibly be true. You could enjoy it as a love story on a number of different levels. You can enjoy it as a whole bunch of puzzles and codes and ciphers. You can enjoy it as a unique reading experience that will make you fall back in love with actual paper books.

    But however you choose to enjoy it, you've got to just commit to it. Let the book's reality capture you, and ride it out until you finish the book. When you're done, you'll probably find that the House has taken up some space inside you, and you'll wonder if the nightmares will actually come, assuming they haven't already.

    You'll go back to the beginning, and you'll reread sections large and small. You'll take a magnifying glass to the pictures and you'll spend a

    time reading message boards that haven't been updated since 2004. You'll grab that copy of

    's

    that you bought before you knew House of Leaves existed, and you'll listen to it again in an entirely new way.

    You'll discover that you live at the end of a five and a half minute hallway.

    ...

    Or maybe you won't. Maybe it won't live in you the way it lives in me... but it's worth your time to find out.

  • Kim
  • Catriona (LittleBookOwl)

    4.5/5 stars!

    I plan to do a video review of this soon, so look forward to that :)

  • Mickey

    ~*~*~*UPDATE, September 2017*~*~*~ It's been nearly ten years since I wrote this review and I continue to be amazed by the response to it. I'm totally blown away by all the chords I've struck and nerves I've hit with this dumb thing over the years. I'm frankly a little embarrassed by it and I've toyed with the idea of just taking it down all together, but I think I'll leave it up because it seems to spark conversation. I would just like to reiterate that it's been ten years since I wrote this an

    ~*~*~*UPDATE, September 2017*~*~*~ It's been nearly ten years since I wrote this review and I continue to be amazed by the response to it. I'm totally blown away by all the chords I've struck and nerves I've hit with this dumb thing over the years. I'm frankly a little embarrassed by it and I've toyed with the idea of just taking it down all together, but I think I'll leave it up because it seems to spark conversation. I would just like to reiterate that it's been ten years since I wrote this and I don't know that it actually reflects the way I would feel about the book if I read it now, so please don't yell at me about it - I don't even know how I could possibly respond. I can't remember the book all that well and I double can't remember why I felt the way I did about it. I think there's actually a pretty good chance that I might like this if I were to read it again.

    I'm sorry younger me was a little brash. I'm also sorry for calling out Radiohead the way I did. I still don't care about them, but I also don't care if you do!

    ~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    I wish there were someway that a sigh could count as a book review.

    House of Leaves is a really, really damn good story. It's about a guy named Johnny Truant who finds a manuscript in a dead man's apartment. Said manuscript is entitled

    . It's essentially a dissertation on a documentary of the same name, by and about a man named Will Navidson and his family. Navidson lives in a house that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside, sometimes only a small fraction of an inch larger, sometimes miles.

    After a quick bit of research Johnny figures out that the Navidson Record, and pretty much everything related to it, does not exist. Johnny becomes obsessed with the whole thing and it drives him crazy.

    I think it's a really great story. However,

    is the perfect definition of bullshit.

    You see, it's got an experimental narrative. People will tell you that it's hard to follow, but those are probably the same people who told you that the Matrix required multiple viewings to understand. The book is written by a fictional character named Zampano, he is the dead man I mentioned above in my synopsis of the story. Johnny Truant, who is more or less the books protagonist, chimes in via an introduction and constant foot notations that he's added to Zampano's work. Most of his foot notes however meander off into him rambling about things that have happened to him in his day to day life (mostly fucking a million super hot babes). It should also be noted that the Zampano character has made a retarded amount of foot notes. See, not

    complicated.

    What really got my goat here is all the goddamn, cutesy little "look how clever I am I"/"I'm a major in art and a minor in lit" bullshit. It starts off simple enough with that kind of stuff. Every time the word "house" comes up the text is blue, no matter what language (and there are several), no matter what. That's a kind of cool little thing, I'm ok with that, but then Danielewski decides that he's going to masturbate from page 119 to page 709. There are annoying text blocking boxes in the middle of about thirty pages that contain text in them that is so clipped and cut off that you can't read it. You have to turn the page sideways and upside down continuously for hundred page stretches at a time, and these pages tend to have a small paragraph at the very best (often times only one or two words), making you flip through the pages very fast. There are footnotes all over the fucking pages making it a big pain in the ass to know what you are supposed to be reading and in what order. Then at the end he has the fucking gall to imply that there are hidden messages encoded throughout the book and

    . It is a seriously frustrating book to read.

    There is no doubt that

    is extremely clever, and it's undoubtedly the most exhaustive work of fiction I have ever read. The foot notes alone, which I gather are 98% referencing material that does not really exist, are impressive. Danielewski really worked his ass off on this and it shows. I respect

    , I cannot stress how much I loved the story, but I pretty much hate the book.

    This book looks at you with this smug fucking smile on it's face, daring you to say that you don't like it, knowing that masses of people are going to go along with it because they don't want to look stupid. That's what this is. It's the fucking Radiohead of books. Well,

    , I am not stupid and I'm calling your bullshit. Fuck you.

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