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House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski


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#1 dakingavenue

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 11:25 AM

Quite simply the most terrifying novel I've ever read.
Its about a house that is not all that it seems its big,no its huge,it exists in another dimention.Or does it?
The dialogue and layout of the text is all over the place,but it works.
I dont think I've ever read anything more original.
I wont tell you anymore it will spoil it for you just read it and enjoy.
But I warn you seriously dont read it alone,its a very disturbing read.

Edited by Kell, 07 March 2009 - 01:32 PM.
Capitals added


#2 Seiichi

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 12:32 PM

It's been years since I've read this. I'll try to give a better description of the book.

From the back cover:

Johnny Truant, wild and troubled sometime employee in an L.A. tattoo parlour, finds a notebook kept by Zampanr, a reclusive old man found dead in a cluttered apartment. Herein is the heavily annotated story of the Navidson Record.

Will Navidson, a photojournalist, and his family move into a new house. What happens next is recorded on videotapes and in interviews. Now the Navidsons are household names. Zampanr, writing on loose sheets, stained napkins, crammed notebooks, has compiled what must be the definitive work on the events on Ash Tree Lane. But Johnny Truant has never heard of the Navidson Record. Nor has anyone else he knows. And the more he reads about Will Navidson's house, the more frightened he becomes. Paranoia besets him. The worst part is that he can't just dismiss the notebook as the ramblings of a crazy old man. He's starting to notice things changing around him...

Immensely imaginative. Impossible to put down. Impossible to forget. House of Leaves is thrilling, terrifying and unlike anything you have ever read before.

This is Mark Danielewski's take on the house that conceals strange spaces. The story behind the Navidson Record is the exploration of a strange doorway that leads into another place---a shifting space engulfed in pitch darkness. The novel preys on the fear of the unknown, of being lost in unfamiliar places, and of being stalked by some unknown creature, which may or may not be a figment of the imagination. To recreate the feeling of space and claustrophobia, Mark Danielewski uses unconventional typography to make the reader lose himself within the text just as the characters become lost in their explorations. Although he's only reading an essay on the Navidson Record and annotating the essay with his own thoughts, the terror of the house appears to invade Johnny Truant's consciousness, eventually taking over his life.


Edit: I forgot to add my own opinions of the book.

I loved this book. People may not like the style and find it annoying, but I think it's worth trying out because it's an exercise in creativity---a book that you won't see many of. There are similar (but nowhere near as sweeping) devices used in other books that I can think of where text and pages are manipulated to convey some meaning, e.g.,

1. using gradually fading text for the diary entries of an Alzheimer's Disease sufferer to parallel the memory loss;

2. a fictional book called Hole in the Middle (or something similar) where there are many blank pages in the book.

Mark Danielewski goes much further than these examples. For a first novel, it's a bold move, and one that works...if the reader appreciates it.

I should perhaps mention how I found this book in the first place. I had been playing Silent Hill 2, in particular the psychological horror aspect, and was interested in the concept. It seemed that House of Leaves is a favourite book and the inspiration Team Silent, the developers of the game.

Edited by Seiichi, 08 March 2009 - 12:08 AM.
Added opinions and reason for picking up the book.


#3 Bellatrix

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 04:42 PM

I read this a few years back, it was given to me by an ex boyfriend who highly recommended it - IT'S BRILLIANT. As well as being a good story the text adds so much to the suspense, I've only come across one other thing like it, which was a pair of Russian films (Horror / Thrillers - for anyone who likes vampire type things like 'Underworld' you might like these films) which were subtitled but every now & again they would fade or drip down the screen or zoom off to one side, interesting films to watch just for the subtitles! Great book - don't be put off by the fact that it's a brick, I've never seen one standard book size only ones as big as a hardback.

Sorry forgot to say the films are called 'Nightwatch' & 'Daywatch'.

Edited by Bellatrix, 08 March 2009 - 04:44 PM.
Forgot to name the films


#4 chrysalis_stage

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 06:42 PM

This book has been on my amazon wishlist for a while. I look forward to reading it some time. :friends0:

#5 Pablo

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 08:44 AM

I've just started reading this in the hope that it'll be what I'm usually looking for, something diffferent. I've got to be honest here though - I'm only thirty odd pages in, and it's really starting to annoy me with the endless irrelevant facts and footnotes. I want to read it through but its pretentiousness is fast becoming the sludge I'm getting stuck in.

On flicking through the book it's clear that the typical type format does not apply here, and I'm hoping that this basic and unoriginal (Irvine Welsh has being doing it for years) 'gimmick' isn't the reason for all the hype.

Hopefully I'll make it to the end, since the premise, at least, does interest me.

#6 BookJumper

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 12:14 PM

I'm only thirty odd pages in, and it's really starting to annoy me with the endless irrelevant facts and footnotes

Oooh I love irrelevant facts and footnotes (call me an English student if you will) - although I do hope it starts gripping you soon, you know who to bequeath your copy to if it doesn't :readingtwo:!

Ahem. Anyway, I have had this on my wishlist ever since I first saw this thread... I'm intrigued by the premise, I love typographical oddities, and in any case feel like I should be supporting an author who (apart from an extra letter and a mild reshuffling of three others) as good as shares my last name :smile2:.

Hope to acquire soon... :lol:.

#7 Pablo

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 07:22 PM

Alrighty, I've finally finished the 'Navidson Report' section of House Of Leaves and although the story itself is pretty gripping, I feel it could have been far more effective had it been condensed into a short story or maybe a novella. If you're interested, it reads like a collision between The Blair Witch Project and Poltergeist.

Where my absolute infuriation with the book lies is in the vast swamps of pointless information, lists, appendices, reversed and sparse text (What a waste of paper), foreign quotations, irrelevant poetry, and so much more that pollute the rest of the book.

I realise that there are those of us who will enjoy reading said information, but it cannot be denied that the impact of the main story thread is reduced to nill due to these massive distractions.

Luckily any of the sections of the book can be read through without paying mind to the others. This, to me, is the only way to go, returning to the start to read each thread, should you wish.

One of the other aspects of the book concerns a character, Johnny Truant (if I remember correctly) who is unlikable and pretentious, serving, from what I made out, only to inject the book with street-credibility.

On the plus side, the attempts by the author to factualise the story, using interviews, references, newspaper clippings, etc, are very effective, in the same way that the hyping of The Blair Witch Project was.

Overall, a massive dissapointment. Save your money - book it out of the library.

#8 Nollaig

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 11:58 AM

I actually got a look at this book, a guy I know has it out of the library. Man, it's weird! Theres pages with only one or two words on, or what looks like mirror writing and things - and IT'S HUGE! I still want it, but it looks quite daunting!

#9 Michelle

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 09:31 PM

I'm not sure if anyone can help, but there are two paperback versions, and I'm wondering if anyone knows what the differences are?
http://www.bookdepos...House-of-Leaves is the cheaper option, from an American publisher..
http://www.bookdepos...House-of-Leaves is more expensive, but is also paperback.
I'm happy to pay a few quid more if it's worth it, but obviously not if there's no difference! :D

#10 sirinrob

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:14 PM

Thje first one is a Blue edition, so house is printed in blue rest in black and white, the second one is red edition House in light grey. Minotaur and struck passages in red. No Braille. Black and white appendices. Sounds a bit of a gimmick to me so I'd go for the first one :D

#11 Michelle

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 06:47 PM

Thank you for that. :) I'm completely intrigued by this book, so I'm going to make it my 'project' for a few months (quite possibly quite a few months!) - I shall read it in between other books, and take my time. :D

#12 Nollaig

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 07:05 PM

I saw the 'gimmick'y one in Waterstones - and it was €30!! Really want the book but not for that price.

#13 BigWords

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 01:43 AM

I saw the 'gimmick'y one in Waterstones - and it was 30!! Really want the book but not for that price.


That's 26.14 at the current exchange rate. And still too expensive.

#14 Vladd

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 09:10 AM

Saw it on Amazon.co.uk for 14.99 post free

#15 Michelle

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 09:29 AM

I think the book depository has it for about the same price.. but the other version is cheaper. :)

#16 Ilona

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 03:00 AM

I don't think I'm even one hundred pages into this book (whick is over six hundred pages in total), and I am already terrified. It's odd, really - so far nothing particularly menacing has happned, and yet the concept of occurances so contrasting to our perceptions of reality is terrifying.

#17 Rawr

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 07:43 AM

I am gonna pick this up as the premise intrigues me and I want to explore it.

#18 Fi

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 12:45 PM

I've just bought this as I'm fed up waiting for a library copy, way down the reservation list and my library system only has 2 copies :lol:

#19 Ilona

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 02:03 PM

My god - sixty pages in and I now can't leave my room for fear of encountering a room other than our hallway.

This book is going to cause me emotional damage.

#20 Rawr

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:09 PM

I want to read this, the premise has intrigued me and I would like to explore the darkness that the author has to offer :roll:




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