House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski


House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Shortly after I finished reading this behemoth about a dream home that is actually a nightmare, I wrote this letter to the friend who loaned it to me:

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and suddenly realized that you do not have the tools at your disposal to win your opponent over? Even if you have, maybe you need a certain desperation for acceptance or approval that will make the comparison clear to you; reading House of Leaves has been like that for me.

I grasped at several ideas while reading, all 709 pages today, more or less six hours, not terribly remarkable except it took longer than I wanted it to.

My biggest contention with it is that it wants to be bigger than it is. (Ha, that was an unintended pun.) It is ultimately an unsatisfying existentialist horror story. We struggle to accept death, change and all things out of our control and I feel that this book does not actually achieve anything but set ancient questions into a new format.

If James Joyce had tried his hand at existentialist horror, this might have been it.

If someone combined ‘The Beast Below’ and ‘The Minotaur’ from Doctor Who, this might have been it, or reminiscent anyway.

I kept trying to see what you saw but between the rambled nightmares, sexcapades and irrelevant german in the footnotes, I could not help but feel that it is trying to be a lot more clever than it actually is.

I think that the format was the most effective thing about it and it seeks to cover up the tale as old as time.

Maybe Zampano is Johnny’s grandfather and in the end they all, his mother included, succumbed to the same madness.

Thanks for lending it to me, I’m sorry I took so long to read it and was unable to see beyond my nose for this.

Ultimately unsatisfying and unrecommendable.

Pages: 705
Year: March 7th 2000
Publisher: Random House

Read: 17 July 2016 to 6 March 2017
Stars: 1 (disliked it)