Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 231: The House of Leaves

Another non-movie post, this is all about the book that most disturbed by life when I was reading it.

The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a difficult book to explain to those who haven't read it. It was written to be very interactive and you can't help but get sucked into the story. There is a frame story about a guy in L.A. finding a manuscript within the possessions of an elderly neighbor who vanishes one day. The manuscript seems to be a well-researched and sourced tale of a true incident that happened in Virginia some years earlier. Even with the second-hand removal from the reality of the story, the main narrative can still grip you.

A family moves into an old house and soon find that, when they measure it, it is consistently larger on the inside than the outside. This leads to a discovery of a hallway that is all black. The more the family investigates the hall, the more doors appear and the deeper it becomes. Soon, expeditions are being mounted to explore the seemingly endless labyrinth that has appeared in their house.

The actual story is pretty original and twisty. The way in which the book is written is the real key to how it sucks you in. It starts with footnotes in the frame story that run for pages at a time. You have to keep track of where you left off to regain your place in the story. By the time you are inside the main narrative, the words twist around the page, sometimes appearing only one word at a time to make you flip breathlessly through to see what happens. Other times, the words are different colors or can only be read in mirrors. You have to work very hard to read this book but it takes you into the story like no other book I've read. While I was reading this book, I was very depressed and felt the existential dread of the characters as they wandered the black maze of the house. I won't spoil anything about the ending but let's just say Danielewski recognizes he has you in his power and doesn't abuse it by leaving you forlorn.

If you like horror and books, I recommend The House of Leaves.

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