Chrissy's Reviews > House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
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Aug 10, 10

bookshelves: experimental, life-changing, recommended-by-friends, favorites, horror
Recommended for: YOU.
Read in July, 2006, read count: 2

Perfect perfect perfect. Mark Z Danielewski's debut novel is a multi-layered experimental masterpiece that has no equal. You will not read another book like this, a book so intricately composed that it will continue to fuel your curiosity and obsession (much like those of the characters within) long after completion. I say "composed" instead of "written" because what Danielewski has accomplished in House of Leaves is more like the narrative equivalent of an elaborate orchestral piece than a novel. It follows three basic stories, set inside one another like Russian dolls. The first layer follows the Navidson family as they move into a new House and soon discover that something is very wrong; it is physically larger on the inside than it is on the outside. The second layer is presented in the form of academic papers, transcripts of interviews, and personal notes by a mysterious character named Zampano, who has obsessively amassed this collection of papers regarding a cult film in which a family moves into a new House.... see where I'm going here? The final layer follows Johnny Truant, a tattoo parlor employee who comes into possession of Zampano's papers and gets pulled in to the story of the House. Beyond the surface, the number of layers to the tale does not stop here. The reader is inexorably drawn in alongside Johnny Truant and slowly comes to discover that, like the House, this book is not all it seems. House of Leaves is a gripping, gut-punching thriller; a brilliant commentary on itself and on "cult" culture; a love story; an obsession; a labyrinth without beginning or end; a haunting exploration of the human mind and of the human capacity for obsession, for tension, for fear; a visual work of art; a pitch black hallway entirely without texture or light or any hope of an ending. Picture that. In your dreams.
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