“House of Leaves” (Post 4/4)

HoL 04

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

House of Leaves Introduction Post

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[148] More of Johnny as minotaur:

What disturbs the sleep of everyone in his hotel; what crushes their throats in their dreams and stalks them like the dusk the day (…) that banished face beyond the province of image, swept clean like a page – is and always has been me.



I will become, I have become, a creature unstirred by history, no longer moved by the present, just hungry, blind and at long last full of mindless wrath.


[149] Translate:

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich Keines mehr. Though I can see, I walk in total darkness.



German: Anyone who does not have a home will no longer build one. Continue reading

“House of Leaves” (Post 3/4)

HoL 03

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

House of Leaves Introduction Post

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[102] Reference:

“The differences are there, like the serpents of the Caduceus.”



The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. The caduceus is often incorrectly used as a symbol of healthcare organizations and medical practice, particularly in North America, due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the Rod of Asclepius, which has only one snake and is never depicted with wings.

[103] Vocabulary:

No doubt your postils will be happier than mine.




noun – (archaic) – a marginal note or comment, especially on a biblical text

a commentary, homily, or book of homilies.

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“House of Leaves” (Post 2/4)

HoL 02

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

House of Leaves Introduction Post

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[62] The Navidsons’ pets are named Hillary (dog) and Mallory (cat) (p.74). Everest references?

Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On May 29, 1953, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest.

George Mallory (1886-1924) was an English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest, in the early 1920s. During the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, disappeared on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent. His body wasn’t discovered until May 1, 1999.

Compare the above with the fates of the Navidsons’ pets:

When Hillary, the grey coated Siberian husky, appears at the end of The Navidson Record, he is no longer a puppy. A couple of years have passed. Something forever watchful has taken up residence in his eyes (…)

Mallory, the tabby cat, vanishes completely, and no mention is made about what happened to him. His disappearance remains a mystery.

(p.74) Continue reading

“House of Leaves” (Post 1/4)

HoL 01

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

House of Leaves Introduction Post

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[1] Entirety of pre-introduction page, written from what we will come to know as Johnny Truant’s perspective:

This is not for you.


It sounded like a dare, so I brought the book home.



Flaze told me later he’d never seen a dead body before and there was no question there would be a body and that just didn’t sit well with Flaze.



The refrigerator wasn’t empty but there wasn’t any food in it either. Zampano had crammed it full of strange, pale books.


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“House of Leaves” Month – Introduction

HoL Intro

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1: Introduction; Chapters I – V

Post 2: Chapters VI – X

Post 3: Chapters XI – XX

Post 4: Chapters XXI – XXII; Exhibits; Appendix – Zampano; Appendix – Johnny Truant; Index

Mark Z. Danielewski’s ambitious and successful debut, published in 2000. I read “The Remastered Full-Color Edition” Pantheon Books 2nd Edition. (So much love to my library for having a copy.)

Buy the Book.

4 out of 5 stars.

Times Read: 1

Heard the album: Yes. Recommended.

The Plot:

The Navidson Record has become a cult and critical sensation. Some believe it’s a genuine documentary, some see it as a hoax. Before his death, a blind man spent years compiling a record of the film and its critical analyses. But the film doesn’t exist, at least as far as L.A. tattoo-shop worker/one-night-stander Johnny Truant can tell. Johnny’s fascination with the blind man’s book soon turns to obsession.

Mix The Blair Witch Project, The Shining, Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” and Cloud Atlas and you’ll be close to House of Leaves’ vibe.

I was worried I was getting myself into another Infinite Jest, a book which wasted time smugly showing off its intelligence, squandering a pretty great plot. But House of Leaves says, “Look how smart you are.” It has faith in the reader. Danielewski respects his audience and gives enough clues (and directions) for us to follow the broad themes and eccentric construction. There are layers and layers to this – people can spend years studying allusions and riddles and hidden messages – but even a surface reading over a long weekend was a fun, eerie, ride.

All gimmick and experimentation aside, the story at the core of House of Leaves is very good. I would enjoy Zampano’s “The Navidson Record” even in “normal” text (heck, I’d probably give it 5 stars if it was a traditional narrative) but Johnny Truant’s sections bring the rating down… We’ll get to my Johnny Truant complaints in due time.