Feelings Initiated by the House

by Chet

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It took much longer to get through House of Leaves, than I originally thought it would. Between visitors, work, and enjoying the summer months in other ways, I allowed myself to meander through the long ashen hallways found within the Navidson’s house. I’ve decided that there is a lot I’d like to share from this book, and to do so properly is going to take more than one post.

To start I’m just going to share the basic lasting effects from this story, and make a few comments about its arrangement. I’m do not intend to release any information in this post that would spoil the book for someone else, but if I come across a section that I feel might be a little too revealing, I’ll make sure you can skip over them without too much effort.

The book is presented innocently enough as a non-fiction write up on the documentary film The Navidson Record by Zampanò, of course there are also the hundreds of footnotes and tangents presented by The Editors and Johnny Truant. As I made my way through the book I quickly discovered that the notes surrounding Johnny Truant are just as important to the development of the over all feeling and characters of the story as the Minotaur mythos.

If you’ve heard anything about this book it’s probably been one of two things: It’s terrifying and will most likely induce nightmares. The text is arranged in such a manner that the person running the printing press is either a child, or totally unstable. For me, there were no nightmares. I can see how under the correct circumstances, or with enough claustrophobia, this book could be quite distressing. I don’t think I can say it enough, I do not recommend this book to anyone who suffers from extreme bouts of claustrophobia; however Danielewski’s ability to relay the vast emptiness within the house is one of my top reasons to recommend this book.

The printing on the other hand, is exactly what you’ve heard. It will have you turning the book to angles you’ve never read at before. You’ll be looking for people to translate things for you, and mirrors to read backward text, you’ll wish you knew Braille and there are a couple bars of music. Your pulse will increase, you will become anxious and nerve wracked. You’ll be reading faster than you’ve ever read before, tensions are building, something is coming but then it just stops. Dead. In the middle of a sentence. The formatting is most often presented in a manner representative of the feelings of the characters or the rearrangement of the house.

All in all I really enjoyed every piece of information contained in this book. I have nothing but heartfelt care for Johnny Truant, and a bizarre curiosity about whether that never-ending house of leaves still stands in Virginia today.

I still haven’t read any additional research into the book. I wanted to give my first, totally untainted, thoughts about the book before I delved into that. I’m going to do some reading this afternoon, but it may be put off for a week. We have family coming to visit!