Betty's Reviews > House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
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Jan 05, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: 2014
Read from October 10 to 18, 2014

Ugh, I did NOT like this. The frame story narrator (Johnny Truant, gag at the hacky name) is this awful, millennium-dude type character (who you'd recognize from any given Chuck Palahniuk novel) who breaks up his meandering, pseudo-intellectual stream-of-consciousness nightmares with banging lots of hot chicks who are described in blatantly sexist ways. His character is inconsistent and nonsensical, and his writing style was irritating enough that it was real work to get through his sections. The stream-of-consciousness stuff was incoherent to the point of being unreadable, and this definitely didn't make it spooky or eerie, just boring. The actual meat of the story, Zampano's critical text re: "The Navidson Record"- the haunted house found footage film- is too inconsistent in tone to convince us of anything. The academic-ish footnotes are too tongue-in-cheek to convince us it's real, and Johnny Truant letting us know that most of the footnotes refer to non-existent texts is meant to make us think Zampano invented it whole cloth, and drove himself mad in the process, but did anyone ever really drive themselves mad while writing fake footnotes and writing fake interviews with Hunter S. Thompson or Stanley Kubrick which are just bad parodies? Danielewski couldn't resist his own cleverness and as a result he just undermines any potential creepiness. Most of the formatting is pointless, and the longest footnotes are just long long lists that fill up space on the page, which kind of implies that Danielewski wanted upside-down/backwards footnotes but couldn't come up with enough content for them. The worst is how little faith he has in the reader- a few times, footnotes are just pointing out Freudian slip type typos- the worst example is when some writer refers to a bad childhood in parentheses, and someone commenting on that says "parentethically" rather than "parenthetically"- this is a lame pun, but THEN the footnote points out the typo AND explains why it may be a subconscious slip so they left it in and OH GOD it's just so tortured. A similar one with "the monster coming from him" versus "for him" and something about the universe's "infinite destiny" rather than "density" as if we've never seen Back to the Future, ALL being heavy-handedly pointed out in the footnotes, ugh. It makes me embarrassed for how clever the author thinks this is that he cannot BEAR the idea of the reader missing it.

Some of the description of the house is a bit creepy, but it gets cartoonish too quickly and the resolution is hacky and by that point we're distracted by the celebrity interpretations and further obnoxious formatting and blah blah. Eventually we learn that Johnny Truant's issues with women are caused by his doting, schizophrenic mother, maybe, and then she dies and he ??? I don't know, I stopped caring and was happy to be done with the book.

It's worth reading maybe 50 pages of this book because it honestly is really fun to hate, but the book doesn't reward any further investment. Another review on here describes this book as being bigger on the outside than on the inside, which is completely perfect and true.
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Reading Progress

10/10/2014 marked as: currently-reading 3 comments
10/15/2014 page 260
36.0% "The text of the film critique part of the book is pretty good, though my tolerance for the footnotes that are just extremely long lists designed to take up space in the cRaAaZyy formatting is waning. The narrator of the frame story, though, is so dull and misogynistic and I haaaate him. Sticking with it, but so far not too impressed."
10/17/2014 page 400
56.0% "do you think the haunted house drove the old man crazy, or was it his terrible impersonations of Hunter S. Thompson, Stanley Kubrick, Camille Paglia, and Harold Bloom" 1 comment
10/18/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Pedro (new)

Pedro I'm surprised you finished it


Betty I finished it purely out of spite.


message 3: by Pedro (new)

Pedro a woman after my own heart


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