Hello, Loyal Readers!
Ever go to a bookstore, pick something up, read the first page and think, “Yeah. This is good. I’m buying it!” But when you get home you find it hard to read and regret spending your money?
Welcome to the House of Leaves.
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewzki is (short version: a haunted house story–Long version follows:) an interwoven set of narratives concerning primarily a pair of manuscripts reflecting on a collection of fictitious non-fiction articles from fictitious publications and authors regarding a fictitious film about a haunted house.
If this sounds a bit convoluted, don’t worry–it is.
Why I Picked it Up:
As described earlier, I heard good things about it, read the first page, and liked it–that one page. I forgot about the last Danielewski book I checked out… Had I remembered, I would have read further before committing to the purchase.
What I Like About It:
It is genuinely creepy and I feel there is a story worth hearing about somewhere inside this massive tome. I wish I had more to say here…
What Could Be Better, If Anything:
It turns out I have a lot of tiny gripes about this book that add up to a haystack of stuff I can’t deal with.
To begin, HoL is presented mostly as a collection of non-fiction articles from magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, etc. I enjoy reading nonfiction fine. I just seem to have an issue with reading fiction in a non-fiction style-it feels like a waste of time to me when I could be reading REAL scholarly journals about things which actually exist.
As a result of this narrative style, I feel ALL of the book’s characters are at arms’ length to me at the nearest. I can’t form a bond with any character in the book because they’re not IN the book–their actions are being analyzed in a series of scholarly articles. The nearest characters to me are the two who write footnotes to these articles–half of which are APA style references to OTHER scholarly articles (which also don’t exist) and others are rambling stories about a bar-hopping twenty something who SEEMS to be the real main character, but whom I just don’t give a shit about because he almost never has anything relevant to say, then starts hallucinating.
You know having written it all out, I guess it’s only two gripes. Huh. Oh well.
This book just didn’t gel for me; I’ve been hanging onto it–intending to read it for months now–inching my way through page by page and it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally admitted to myself I will never finish it. It’s HUGE and the thought of wading through all that fake article stuff really wears me out. Danielewzki, known for his experimentation with novel form, has a style that I guess I just don’t pick up on. I love that he’s doing these experiments, I just never like the results he gets 😦
If you’d like to give HoL a try, I highly recommend borrowing it from a friend or checking it out from the library–don’t spend the money until you’re absolutely SURE you like this style of narrative.
And if you’ve read it already, make like a House and Leave a comment!
Oh, shit, did I just type that?