This book is not for you.
I was hooked.
I'm just over 50 pages into Mark Danielewski's book House of Leaves and already a little bit in love.
House of Leaves has been in my TBR book case for several years and on my radar ever since I took a class about cartography almost ten years ago. One of the professor/presenters discussed House of Leaves at length because he believed it should be read like a map. You can see by the page posted here what he means. Each block of text is a different story line, positioned on the page to comment on the other story lines based on proximity, shape, etc.
The map aspect doesn't play into the first fifty pages much at all; the first fifty pages are about footnotes.
The main story line is found in a manuscript written by an old man, Zampao, who has died when the novel opens. The un-bound manuscript is a detailed analysis of a documentary movie about a haunted house. The movie, The Navidson Report, was made by a filmmaker who set up small cameras all over the old house his family purchased intending to document what happens when a family moves to a new home. Instead, the family finds that the house is unusual in that everyone who has ever lived there came to a bad end. In the first 50 pages, the family discovers that the inside of the house is bigger than the outside by a quarter of an inch.
The old man, Zampano, who wrote the manuscript about the movie is given to flights of digression worthy of Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, one of my all-time favorite books. This manuscript has two sets of footnotes. The first is written by Johnny Truant, one of the young men who discovered Zamapno's manuscript after the old man died. Johnny comments on Zampano's work, what he knows of the old man's life, his on-going romance with a stripper he calls Thumper and goes of on his own digressions sometimes for pages. These digressions often break out into rhapsodies of pure language that reminded me of the ore passionate passages in Roberto Bolano's work. References abound in House of Leaves.
Add to Johnny Truant's notations a second level of footnotes, composed by the editors of this edition, who verify and clarify Zampano's book, Johnny's footnotes and what they know of The Navidson Report, the movie within a book, within a book.
This morning, while I was thinking about the title and why every time the word 'house' appears in the book it's in blue ink, I realized the a leaf can be define as a page in a book. So is the book itself the house? It's the House of Leaves after all and the manuscript at the heart of it was found loosely spread inside an old trunk.
And isn't a book bigger on the inside than it is on the outside?
It's all so much fun.
I can't wait to get to the map pages.