If I had to describe House of Leaves (by Mark Z. Danielewski) in one word, that would be it.
It’s about a house that’s bigger on the inside. And a whole bunch of other things that I don’t know how to put into words because although there was a plot, there also was no plot. It’s indescribable really.
I thought I was going to have a lot of fun writing this review because there’s so much to discuss and to think about and it’s so different and unconventional that I thought I would make this post accidentally too long.
But now that it actually comes to writing it, I can’t think of what to say. Just haunting and indescribable. First of all, there’s the formatting. I mean, it’s sometimes just pages and pages of text that feel like a textbook (and frankly almost boring, but not quite), but then there’s also sometimes just one word on a page. It was weird. Weird almost doesn’t cut it. But it was intriguing and for days I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it. Thinking back, I’m not even sure what was so fascinating about it that I just wanted to keep reading it. I haven’t read a book like that in a while, a book that brought back the eagerness to read, the itch of wanting to reach the last page.
I do have to say that I was very conscious of my pacing though.
Because of the formatting and the vast difference in the amount of text on a certain page, I became very conscious of the breaks that I was taking to turn the page. I don’t know if that made a difference in anything, but it was interesting. House of Leaves was a book that I couldn’t completely immerse myself into because I was either too busy turning the page or turning the book upside or flipping back and forth because I got lost.
It almost sounds like a bad thing, but it isn’t. Whenever I am analyzing a text or reading criticism, I can’t immerse myself in it, or it would just be pointless. If I’m so caught up in Shakespeare or whatever that I forget to analyze, then what’s the point of trying to write an essay on it?
So I tried to read House of Leaves as I would something I would analyze. It didn’t quite work as I couldn’t make sense of anything, but it was definitely a reading experience that I won’t forget. I didn’t know a lot of things, but I do know that I will read it again. And probably another time after that. Even though I tried to make sure I read every word, I still felt like I was missing something, that I had accidentally skipped something.
I still feel like that, even a week after having read it. And the kind-of anecdotes that weren’t really anecdotes because it still related to the topic, but at the same time it was off-topic. There was a certain passage and a kind-of motif that goes through the entire book about the Minotaur that blew my mind. It is, without doubt, one of my favorite passages in any book. Ever. This review probably doesn’t make much sense, but it really isn’t so much a review as a place that I can get my thoughts together because there’s so much to this book. And honestly, I’m still confused.
Conclusion: Dark, mysterious, and unconventional, House of Leaves is a book worth experiencing as the tale of the house unfolds through anecdotal editor’s notes, footnotes, and other intriguing features. Although confusion may be a very prominent part of the reading experience, but it somehow draws meaning and thoughtfulness through the words that may or may not be upside down. 9/10.