An Exercise in Madness: House of Leaves

Okay, so this is a novel that I’ve been meaning to talk about. It’s one that requires its own post, and even then I’m not sure I’ll do it justice.

Ready?

The story in House of Leaves (without spoiling) goes something like this:
There’s this guy, Johnny. He’s our narrator, in a way. He finds a manuscript by a deceased old man known as Zampano. The manuscript is a book about a documentary about a family who made a documentary about their house, which is considerably bigger inside than it is outside. Oh, and it’s growing. And there are growls in the dark.

So we’re reading a book about a book about a movie about a movie. Yep.

It starts when Will Navidson, the homeowner, finds a door where there wasn’t one before. It’s inside, but on an exterior wall: so if opened, it should lead outside. Instead it opens onto a pitch-black hallway that gets longer the further you walk it.

The typesetting in the novel itself is upside down, backwards, crossed-out, different colours, encoded. The book is heavily cross-referenced to books and articles that don’t exist. It’s maddening, and fascinating, and hypnotic.

You can read it with or without Johnny, with or without solving the code. It’s several books inside one big one, and if that wasn’t layered enough, there’s an album recorded specifically to complement it.

It’s one of my favourites, by far, and up next on my re-reading list. I’ve only just begun feeling comfortable looking down dark hallways since my last read-through…it’s about time I scared the shit out of myself again.

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About Stefanie N Snider

Writer of shocking short horror. See my full list of stories here: http://sniderwriter.com/stories/ View all posts by Stefanie N Snider

2 responses to “An Exercise in Madness: House of Leaves

  • Sarah

    Where could I find this album, and what kind of things would I find on it? haha I spent a little time chipping at House of Leaves last summer and was utterly exhausted. And terrified. Did you finish it?

    • Stefanie N Snider

      It’s Haunted, by Poe, who just happens to be Danielewski’s sister. The music is dark but beautiful. It’s especially good if you listen to it while you read by flashlight.

      I’ve read it all the way through a few times now, but it did take me a couple tries at first. It scared me, but moreover it was the dread that stuck with me. How far did you make it? It gets so freakin’ creepy once you get into it…

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