Friday, December 11, 2009

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski


The Deal: At this point in time, due to an RSI, I can only type for 10 minutes at a time. What you see below is what is hammered out before the timer goes off- and nothing more.


You know, this book is insane, and when I say insane, I mean insane with a capital "fuck". It requires a hell of a lot more than ten minutes of typing to even-

But at the same time, it's a well covered book. It's a book that just begs to be analysed and discussed and have essays and articles written about it, and you don't have to look far at all to find all sorts of writing dedicated to what is contained between the covers. For books that are so well chewed over, I generally feel I have nothing to say which has no doubt already been said a hundred times over, so why play that tape again and add to the white noise?

(For your own memory, Tess.)

I say 'contained between the covers' because it is not so easily fitted in the word of 'story'. It's an academic paper. It's the diary of a man losing his grip on the normal shared world. It's a documentary. It's insane, and when I say insane, I mean insane with a capital "fuck". I can't sum up the various stories contained within stories folded into other stories sharing footnotes creeping into each other's page space shuffling each other out of order off the page out of sync infecting each other with different coloured ink. I can't. I won't even try.

This book frightened me. Not the way Conrad Williams frightens me, that I have to sleep with the light on and check there's nothing in the room about to eat my face. It scared me in a less visceral, more emotional level. It made me question sanity, not my own sanity, but the sanity of the world. I had to stop reading it at 7am on a Saturday morning, with the sun high and bright and city waking and happy.

I didn't know if, with all those stories spiraling around each other and out of control, as the stories spiraled down the stairs and into a place that could not exist, the book would be able to carry the weight of what it contained, but it did.

The edition I have is 'remastered full-colour', containing some end errata which, after the main body, didn't quite sate my hunger for more more more I don't understand yet, but was enough for me to step back and say, actually, I don't want to know.

Verdict: also FUCKING OARSUM. Possibly the most challenging book I've ever read. The damn thing will make you work, you have to earn your fuckedupedness. I love it. I'm a sucker for anything that plays with page formatting.

Thank you Miss Apricot, even though she doesn't like the book and disapproves of its existence.


  1. Definitely a book you have to be in the mood for--I spent most of a summer slogging up to page 50 and then gave up, and then the next year I tried again and tore ass through it in a couple of weeks. How deep did you go? I was managing a video store than and could get away with deciphering codes from Johnny's (johnny, right?) mother but I seem to remember Jeff and Ann saying they didn't bother going so crazy with it. Great stuff, though his follow-up didn't hook me ( I felt that all the complaints people had about this book were more fitting for that one--kind of affected, kind of trying-too-hard, kind of obnoxious) and I put it down...Hmmm, maybe time to try it again, actually.

  2. By the time I got to the mother's letters the story was over for me - it was the Navidsons and the house that I was obsessed with. I thought about deciphering the mother's letters, but was no longer that invested in the book, and was never that invested in her.

    I haven't picked up the second book, heard to many not brilliant things about it from people whose opinions I trust. To be honest, I'm not sure he could ever top House of Leaves for me. It's such a powerful book, the sort of thing that is a First Time, and everything that follows is just a dazed echo in the wake.