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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski

I'll say it upfront - do not read this book if you don't have a good threshold for the creepy. Not the scary or bloody, just... creepy. My very first impression of the book, reading the inside cover, was: "Is this real?" It's written in a non-fiction style, which makes everything creepier.

It begins first with a man collecting the story, which itself begins with no context - sort of in the future. It discusses the arguments and controversy over a certain video, "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway". It isn't until later that you find out the video is of a closet that shouldn't be in the house. It loops around the house, thoroughly proving that there is no space for that closet in the house, and yet it is there. The creator of the video and owner of the house, Navidson, and his family, upon moving into the house, find that the inside of the house is slightly larger that the outside - by a few solid inches.

The inches are caused by the closet, which later in the book extends into an entire maze of passageways, hallways, and stairs in pure pitch-darkness and freezing cold, with ominous growls that cause physical c
hanges in the passageways. Navidson and a few other people explore the hallways, leading to insanity, murder, and death. By all means, an thrilling book. While Navidson is descending deep into the maze alone, the pages seem to break down and crumble. There are many footnotes, and footnotes within footnotes - it's a hard to read book, both physically and content-ly.

The other character, Truant, who collects the story of Navidson Record, has his own side story, describes what is progressing in his life while he collects information. He finds, firstly, that there is no evidence of the house existing, that many interviews he found written were claimed false, and that many references are indeed true. We
learn about his childhood, his delusions and paranoia, and his multiple sex encounters. Not nearly as fun as the main story, and definitely cut-out-able.

This book, although with many components of horror and pure fear, is sometimes curiously classified as a love story. Pure hogwash, if you ask me, but I have to mention it - as a result of the maze within their house, Navidson and his wife go through hard times, but make up in the end. There.

I would give this book a 4.3 - it's a wonderful thriller, and fantastically scary, good content for nightmares-that-are-not-quite-nightmares, but it's very hard to read (it's like a dense nonfiction story sometimes), and the side story isn't very fun. It's like freezing cold ice cream - shocking, and painful for the brain at points, but nonetheless a delicious read.

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