Book Review: Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves

Saturday, 28 December 2002

i’m not one who has much knowl­edge of lit­er­ary trends in novel-writ­ing but House of Leaves strikes me as a book that could very well be the great work of post­mod­ern lit­er­a­ture. which means every­thing and noth­ing. as an ex­per­i­men­tal novel it is a re­mark­ably well con­structed thing. i had a bit of trou­ble get­ting in to it, but the book teaches you how to read it as it goes along. at my last count there are three and a half sto­ries all re­volv­ing en­cased within each other. start­ing from the core we have The Navidson Record, a non-fic­tion film and doc­u­men­tary in the true mean­ing of the word, of the Navidson’s house on Ash Tree Lane that is larger on the in­side than it is on the out­side. within the depths of this house, or per­haps within the depths of the souls of the peo­ple that live in the house dwells the shad­owy mino­taur. this story is the sub­ject of a pseudo-aca­d­e­mic ex­am­i­na­tion of The Navidson Record by the blind Zamp no. this per­son is dead. but Johnny Truant who knew Zamp no takes it upon him­self to or­ga­nize and foot­note this pa­per, al­most at the cost of his san­ity. the half story comes from the ed­i­tors who take it upon them­selves to provide trans­la­tions for the nu­mer­ous pas­sages in for­eign lan­guages.

the en­tire work is heav­ily foot­noted which ef­fec­tively keeps the reader from be­com­ing too en­gaged in any one story at a time. also, 4 dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the book ex­ist. in the su­per-duper de-luxe ver­sion, every oc­cur­rence of house is in blue and the word mino­taur and struck pas­sages are in red. plus, one struck line is in pur­ple and there are braille pas­sages and color plates.

as a film stu­dent i was fas­ci­nated with the crit­i­cism of The Navidson Record. i want to make this film. As for what the book in­tends to do, i have only slight clues. i need to read it sev­eral more times and en­join my­self to the mes­sage boards on the book. i sus­pect that the mean­ing will be dif­fer­ent for each per­son. if you like to read, then add this book to your list. i loved it.