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You got a deathwish, Truant?

  • Jun 23, 2010

The only way I can describe reading this book is as a mixture of fascination and terror. Danielewski writes Johnny Truant's narrative so personally that reading his asides and musings cause you to sympathize with his fear and confusion. On the other hand, Zampano's take on The Navidson Record is at times so profound I had to stop and re-read a chapter to really study his words. Though the author often uses the book to illustrate a pseudophilosophy, there are moments in House of Leaves that truly shine, such as Zampano's take on the nature of sound and echoes. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who is ready for a taste of something more than a novel: horror lovers, philosophers, artists, bankers, lawyers. I have recommended this to most people I have ever met and I consider it one of the most precious pieces of literature I own. (Note to parents: the book is explicit in language, drug content, sexual content, violence, and will scare the Jesus out of even hardened adults. I wouldn't recommend letting your 12-year-old read it for a few years.)

House of Leaves is, in itself, a labyrinth: a story within a story within another story. A young man named Johnny Truant inherits an unpublished work by an old man named Zampano, who died of mysterious circumstances alone in his apartment. Zampano wrote an academic critique of a fictional film called The Navidson Record, a documentary by photographer Will Navidson about the mysterious house he and his family have moved into. Navidson, upon inspection, is shocked to find that the width of the inside of his house exceeds the width of the outside of his house by a quarter of an inch, and is growing daily. A door soon appears in the middle of the night, leading into a dark, vast, and shifting labyrinth haunted by an invisible terror they only dare imagine. As Zampano describes Navidson and his team's explorations into the labyrinth, the structure of the novel soon (literally) falls apart, with backwards passages, footnotes leading nowhere, pages dedicated to a single word, and Johnny's slow but definite mental breakdown.

You got a deathwish, Truant? You got a deathwish, Truant?

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June 29, 2010
Sounds like a great horror read! Thanks so much for sharing the review with the Cafe Libri Community!
More House of Leaves reviews
review by . June 25, 2010
A Strange Trip To Insanity
This is one of the best novels I have ever read and my favorite.      House of Leaves has three interwoven stories. We start with Johnny Truant. He is a drug addict and son of a mentally ill woman. When Zampano, a man that lives on the ground floor, dies mysteriously, Johnny inherits his scholarly work-in-progress piece on a false documentary. Cue story line two. Zampano is clearly obsessed by the false video and picks it apart. Some of the comparisons and revelations are extremely …
review by . December 10, 2010
   Okay, so I’m feeling a little guilty about bailing on this 660+ page beast of a book because I was the instigator of the “hey, let’s read it together” conversation that led to getting Jenn and Jill on board, and poor Jill actually finished the book! But not guilty enough to keep going. I’m a serious subscriber to Nancy Pearl’s “Rule of 50,” and I generally make no bones about stepping away from a book that just isn’t doing it for …
review by . July 02, 2010
To put it quite simply: this book is a doozy.      Those who are stuck in the old era of strictly linear narratives may run away in fear now. House of Leaves is a large tome, with multiple, parallel narratives (Zampiano, J. Truant, and the house itself/those who inhabit the house.. not to mention many others), non-traditional format (typography and arrangement, here, is used as a sort of concrete poetry to echo the events of the story), and non-traditional forms. But, if you …
Quick Tip by . August 09, 2010
I can't tell, I skipped over about two thirds of this one - half the narrators were annoying and unreadable.
review by . August 07, 2010
Danielwiski keeps the reader hooked from the very start.  He meticulously keeps several layers of narrative going simultaneously, developing each accordingly with one another, numerous parallels existing on all levels.  The book could be characterized by digressions, a technique popular among post-modern writers, trying to replicate a stream of consciousness.  A page seldom goes by without at least one footnote, to some obscure other writing, usually made up by Danielwiski himself. …
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Really the only thing interesting about this book is the way it was constructed. In my opinion the story was not very compelling.
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Michael Wassall ()
Ranked #974
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