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Customer Review

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the depths, 18 Jan. 2006
This review is from: House Of Leaves (Paperback)
An astute reader can come to gauge a writer through what he produces. And if this is so for "House of Leaves, then Mark Danielewski is a swirling mixture of the mad and the magnificent. This book is unlike any other that I have ever read -- hard and surreal, strange and magnificent.
Will Navidson moves into a house with a secret, a door that leads into a bizarre tangle of stairways and passages. After his experiences are put down in the Navidson Record, a blind man named Zampanò makes further studies of the house -- and then the tattoo artist Johnny Truant, after Zampanò's death.As the reader goes deeper into the house (the word "house" isusually printed in blue), reality and perception start to warp...
Trying to explain "House of Leaves" is like trying to explain "Mulholland Drive" in one sentence. Summarizing is hard enough; summarizing it briefly is virtually impossible. But if the actual story of "House of Leaves" is fantastic, then the way it's written is even better.It's sprinkled with anecdotes, letters (often with crossed-out lines), footnotes, lists, appendices, and pseudo-interview snippets from people like Anne Rice, Camille Paglia, David Copperfield, Stephen King, and Stanley Kubrick. There are pages that are entirely blotted out, or have only a single word, or are printed upside-down, sideways, tilted, running into a mess of letters, or in a spiral. There is poetry, pictures of tattered pages, musical notes, collages and paintings.
Danielewski's style is amazing. It's in flux -- some parts of it, in keeping with who wrote it, are dry and flat (Zampanò), and some are more casual (Truant). But as the book grows darker and more surreal, it doesn't alienate -- instead, it draws you in and warps how you see the world for just a little while, as if the book is reaching out of its pages to grab the reader's brain. Almost like the house, one might say.
The kind of terror and horror in "House of Leaves" are not the kind you read in hack horror books, where something transforms or a nasty thing leaps out of the shadows and eviscerates screaming extras. It's a creeping, subtle thing, like oil dripping over the surface of a pond. It's like a hallucination, surreal and continually shifting, where the laws of physics don't apply.
This genre-busting post-modernist book is like taking a rollercoaster through a Dali-designed funhouse. Alone in its genre, it's a work of art. It will scare you, twist you, and linger in your mind without cheap tricks or flashy devices. Astounding.
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