Spooktober, Day 14: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski


Okay, so, confession time: I haven’t actually finished Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. So I’m not sure If I’m really qualified to comment on it, except to say that it’s really weird and really good, and it gives me a headache.
The plot, as far as I can tell, is formed by a series of narratives nestled within one another, distinguished by different typography, accompanied by enough footnotes to scare Terry Pratchett and a series of attempts at editorialising. A tattoo artist and unreliable narrator tell the story of how he discovered a manuscript that purports to be about a family’s discovery of the non-Euclidean space within their home and their tragic, misguided attempts to document it. And as the mystery deepens, the books itself starts to unravel— as in, the typesetting changes, so that entire pages might include only a few words, or a paragraph might be arranged into a triangle. It’s a bizarre, mind-shatteringly strange read, in which the very format of the page reflects how reality is warping inside the character’s home.
Somehow, I feel like I’m still not doing justice to House of Leaves. I’m still not sure it’s even a horror story or even a story in the conventional sense of the word. I can’t even fully recommend it: since the format is so inherent to the experience, the book tends to be expensive. But I think it’s worth tracking down and taking a look. It’s not for everyone: much like Gravity’s Rainbow, it’s so deliberately offputting that it might test your patience. But it’s also entirely unlike anything else you’ve read, a monstrous example of what can be done with books as a media. It helps that it’s superlatively written whenever it’s making sense. Just be brave and give it a go.


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