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A Labyrinthine, Post-Modern Text. Don't Get Lost.

  • Jul 2, 2010
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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 can make your way through this labyrinth, it's very well worth it.

The thing that struck me most about this book was the sheer atmosphere. To me, I know a book is good when it absorbs myself into it to the point where, even after I put the book down, my head lingers in the world it created. Danielewski's words and the way he arranges them truly creates a paranoid sense of foreboding and fear. His descriptions weave between surrealistic, stream-of-consciousness, near-Dadaist babble, journalistic notation, and non-of-the-above, but always he manages to make it seem believable. The events, locations, and characters of the story are all fascinating and engrossing.

But this is not a book for the lighthearted -- it's a mess of a text, one that can occupy you in it's implications and extensions for months and months on end (it's even got an appendix!). Some chapters seem windy and pointless (a long dissertation on the propagation of soundwaves, for instance), although in the end most everything has a place in the vast, post-text universe Danielewski has created. Totally engrossing, but also a challenge.

Recommended, but with caution.

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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 . June 23, 2010
You got a deathwish, Truant?
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 …
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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