I’m a big fan of crazy walls. For those unfamiliar with the term, a crazy wall is a wall covered with things like newspapers, printed-out websites, pictures with faces circled with thick red marker – all connected by thin lines of string and coincidence. They are awesome.
House of Leaves is the crazy wall of books. Written by Mark Z. Danielewski, but in-book the author is a man named Zampanò. Zampanò wrote the book in the form of a manuscript that covered backs of postage stamps and other strange surfaces. The whole thing is sitting in a trunk, which a man named Johnny Truant finds and, after reading through it, gets it published. Johnny has filled the footnote-filled book written by Zampanò with even more footnotes. This book contains a lot of footnotes.
That’s not the only thing that sets this book apart, format wise. Some pages have one line of text, some have columns of text or text that’s upside-down. Plus, it’s pretty long. Needless to say, this is not an easy book to read. This isn’t the kind of book you’d read while relaxing on the beach or lying around the house. It requires a lot of thought. There are often multiple layers of narratives going on at once – Johnny’s footnotes about Zampanò’s footnotes on his academic work about a documentary called The Navidson Record (which Johnny says doesn’t even exist). Sound confusing? To a guy that likes solving mysteries, it was an enjoyable experience, but if you don’t like that kind of thing, you’d hate this book.
One of the narratives is The Navidson Record itself. The Navidson Record is, at first glance, one of those home video style horror flicks, the kind with shaky cameras and a boring plot. The kind of movie I hate. But I have to say The Navidson Record is the best movie of that type that I’ve ever… well, not seen obviously. I’ll say the best I’ve ever experienced. It’s about a professional photographer named Will Navidson who moves into a new house with his family. The documentary is initially supposed to be about a family moving into a new place, but quickly becomes something else when, after returning to the house after going away for a while, a strange closet appears where there was no closet before. And that’s only the beginning.
The other main narrative is Johnny Truant’s decent into madness as a result of reading Zampanò’s manuscript. Nothing like a having a character go crazy from reading your book to get people to read your book.
I don’t know if I suggest reading this book exactly, but if you have some time and brainpower to spare, it’s a pretty interesting read.