House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

Imagine a cross between Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire and Marisha Pessl's Night Film and you've got something approximating House of Leaves. It's a deeply weird book, one presented as a commentary on a film known as The Navidson Record, about a family who moves to an old house in the country only to find that it is somewhat...larger than they expected.

 

That commentary (written, somewhat ironically, by a blind man, Zampano) is edited by Johnny Truant, a young delinquent who can't get The Navidson Record out of his head, despite the fact that no-one else has ever heard of it. His memories and life experiences find their way into the editing and, somehow, into the commentary itself.

 

First of all, it's very postmodernist, full of typological tricks and self-references. For me, this is awesome. I love postmodernism, probably because I read it after having to read the great navel-gazing classics of Modernism. The postmodernists usually have a story to tell, and a good one - as in this case - one that almost compels you to go on reading, but one that makes you think, as well, about stories and why we tell them, about fear, about the power of words as above the power of images.

 

House of Leaves is also bloody scary. It's the kind of horror that suggests, rather than waving itself in your face: a horror of shadows, and darkness, and infinity. It kept me awake at night trying not to think about it. (Of course, it didn't help that I was staying in an old house at the time.)

 

It's clever, and labyrinthine, and the kind of book you could spend a lifetime studying. Although I suspect this would make you go as mad as the characters.