House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

I gave myself a re-read because I'm well ahead of my reading target this year. 


This time around, I read it out of order, going along with the skips and jumps the book suggests everywhere (e.g. "see chapter XI", "Appendix II-C", "page 345" or whatever).


It's an interesting experience but I don't think it's a particularly good way to read the book for the first time. I had all these dim memories of what happens in the book but I never seemed to get to the point where I read them, instead only stumbling across hints and after-the-fact mentions - that endless deferral of meaning a nice metaphor both for the endless lightless corridors of the house and for the way the text itself gives us no direct access to the film at the heart of it. To get Saussurean for a moment: we don't ever experience the thing, only interpretations of the thing.


The ending felt weirdly abrupt and simple, like Danielewski ran out of steam and went "fuck it, I'm just going to finish this thing now". Of course, that could equally be Zampano saying that, in which case it's a deliberate authorial move and not a failure.


It's all a lot of fun to think about: I'm a huge Gothic fan and I love the way Danielewski plays with the conventions of the genre so knowingly. Fittingly for a book framed as commentary, I think a lot of its (literal) twists and turns are useful for thinking about what other Gothic novels are doing too.


Reading House of Leaves was quite an academic experience this time around. I enjoyed it.