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.