…Which is where this book should end up because ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m talking about House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This book has been on my reading list for a while because it has an amazing cult following and resides on many top five lists for being one of the best horror novels out today. Am I just that cynical or was I expecting too much?
For me, this book is the Charles Manson of horror novels. It was able to gather a following without following through on much by way of leaving its reader satisfied at the end. To be fair, I read it on my Amazon app (was not available on the Nook) and apparently that devalues the “message” the author is trying to send. I can’t figure out what that message is except for the pretentious bullshit of you just don’t get it from those who seem to love it, and an arrogant suggestion from the author who implies there are hidden clues you must go back to find once you’re finished reading in order to really understand it.
Again. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The premise of the story itself is good. Really good. The main character, Johnny Truant, finds a dissertation in a dead guy’s (Zampano) apartment. The story is about a family who lives in a house that is bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. But it's not that it just looks that way – there are plenty of houses in my neighborhood that fit that notion – the house really is bigger on the inside. Hidden rooms, hallways, closets that go on forever… And this is where the experimental format comes in that left me banging my head against the wall. Truant begins adding footnotes, random text, marginal comments, and sometimes just one word on one page causing you to flip or swipe obscenely fast to get to the next. He becomes obsessed with trying to finish Zampano’s work.
To give more information about the premise, I would be giving you spoilers so I will stop here with the book itself except to say that the words, the story, are taking you in one direction while the layout and format of sections are subconsciously taking you in another. Which part of your brain do you trust?
I do wish, however, that I could read the book in its original form. People swear the version that consists of random pages of text, weirdly places images, and boxes of notes and footnotes, comes through much better when you’re holding the actual paper in your hands. I do take responsibility for my part in that with regard to my review and may give it another shot someday.
My best advice (or recommendation) for this horror novel is to try it yourself. I don’t suggest using an e-reader – go out and buy the actual book if you’re so inclined. A lot of people do love this book and the following behind it is real. Some people claim it has changed their lives. Me? Eh.