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 A young man named Johnny Truant inherits an unpublished work by an old man named Zampano, who died of mysterious circumstances alone in his apartment.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.
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