Any attempt to summarize the plot of this book will make me sound like a crazy person.
Don’t believe me? Try this on, then: This book is about an in-depth criticism of a film that probably doesn’t exist. Even if the film does exist, the man writing the criticism couldn’t possibly have seen it — but the book’s not really about that. It’s about a guy who found the criticism of the film. But it’s not really about that either.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? And it certainly doesn’t sound like something that’s easy to get into, especially when you consider that a lot of the pages in the book are laid out. . . well, rather strangely.
Just looking at the above page, it seems that this would be a tough novel to get into — but it really isn’t. Even with the multiple storylines, the odd arrangement of text (which often reveals more about the psychological state of the characters than the words themselves), and the dubious nature of the central pillar of the storyline, “House of Leaves” is a gripping read.
And it’s all thanks to (at the time) first-time novelist Mark Z. Danielewski. He comes from a family you might have heard of — his father was a film director, and his sister is the musician Poe. This isn’t a Stallone-sibling “let’s trade on the name of my famous family” offering, though — this work stands as one of the most interesting forays into the world of horror I’ve ever read. Parts of this book make Stephen King’s work feel like “Einstein’s Brain” (of which I shall never speak again). There’s a psychological creepiness in this work that stays with you for days, even months, after your initial read.
But it’s not just the creepy factor that stays with you — when I first read this book years ago, I became obsessed with it for months, scrawling down notes and spiraling drawings without realizing it. Danielewski creates an entire world, traps you in it, and leaves it up to you to find your way out.
Though it can be challenging at times (I mean, just look at the page above), it’s well worth getting through the 700-odd pages, if for no other reason than to see if what you think happened in the book is actually what happened. Take the time and read this one — I promise it’ll get inside your head, and you’ll be the guy or girl to introduce this to the rest of your circle. Share the madness, people.