by Mark Z. Danielewski
I finally finished House of Leaves and I am a bit relieved and a bit sad at the same time. It was such a wonderful book that I would recommend it to everyone, especially those who adore puzzles and/or Academic stuff.
I actually finished it a few days ago. It wasn’t until today when I couldn’t remember the author’s name and I decided to google it that I decided to tell you all about it. The Wikipedia site is, I feel, the main proof for how great this book is for those who love puzzles, secrets and mysteries. There is so much more to the story rather than just what is laid out before you. Not only that, but it’s also amazing how much this book has inspired people. YouTube is full of videos of people’s interpretations of the book. Such as The Navidson Record (which would be a bit creepy were you to watch it whilst sitting alone in the dark), House of Leaves(The Navidson Record)- Trailer (a ‘mock’ trailer for a would be film version of the book) and House of Leaves – Intro (an amazing intro to another would be movie with GREAT typography graphics). Also, The author’s sister (who happens to be Poe) made an entire album based off of the book, one of the singles being Angry Johnny.
It’s very hard to explain it without either giving things away or confusing everyone so much that it scares them out of reading it. What I can say is that it’s griping and compelling. One thing that really hooked me to it was the realism that Danielewski writes with. Every line felt true. There were times when, though I am well aware that it is a fictional story, I started to wonder if Johnny was a real person and what he was doing and how he’s dealing with it all. Hell, I’ve started to wonder if Johnny was lying and Zampanò is a real person and The Navidson Record is a real movie and we all have just been oblivious to it’s existence. I’ve grown so frustrated with books that have a compelling plot line but the writing is so fake that it just ruins everything. What I like to call ‘fan fiction’ writing has taken over a lot of literature and the sad thing is that books with this style of writing are becoming more and more popular, Twilight being a major one. Writing that sounds like it’s the first draft and nothing was really thought through but just jot down in desperation for something to write. The causes being anything from publishers just wanting more money, fast, to authors wanting the same thing, even readers who wouldn’t know inspired writing if it slapped them in the face. This is the reason I can’t stand to read ‘serial’ novels or ‘paperback’ novels. The reason I tend to not trust book reviews (I gave up on movie reviews a long time ago and never really read music reviews, so I guess it’s a good thing that I now depend solely on my own intuition and preferences when it comes to entertainment). Danielewski has renewed my hope in good authors who can create not just a story but a world. A world so real that I miss the characters once I have finished the book and find myself wanting to know where they are, what they’re doing and why they’ve left me in silence for so long.
In closing, I found this comment on what the meaning behind chapter 21 might be whilst sifting through YouTube videos;
“Anyway, I kind of have an idea(though it may not be correct). I think that his story is a way of justifying himself for not giving us a ‘good’ ending. It’s a way of telling us that this is reality, that there is no answer to your questions. Ambiguities come and go without answer or reason. Things happen that are unrelated to the big picture, things that ultimately don’t matter, whimsical things.”
I think that sums up the entire book. There is no perfect storybook ending and the entire thing is so anti-Hollywood that it makes every sentence, every word feel that much more real, that much more whimsical and that much more of a love story.
“I had a woman come up to me in a bookstore and say, ‘You know, everyone told me it was a horror book but when I finished it, I realized that it was a love story.’ And she’s absolutely right. In some ways, genre is a marketing tool.” – Mark Z. Danielewski