A Labrynth of a Novel

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski is a creature of a book, impossible to categorize and describe by conventional means.  The plot is deceptively simple- a young man discovers among a dead man’s possessions the remnants of notes for a book he was writing. The book this older man was working on is an in-depth study of a film called the Navidson Record.  The short film is a “documentary” about the Navidson family who moved into a house that contained a perpetually morphing and sinister labyrinth hidden behind its walls. The film has attracted a cult following due to its sheer artistic value and the captivating mystery about the fate of those the house has seemed to erase from existence. The point of view in Danielewski’s novel switches between the young man, Johnny Trout, who becomes obsessed with transcribing the papers he has found; the text of the deceased’s collected scribblings, and a huge collection of footnotes and editorial comments. Johnny Trout becomes ensnared by the book, and he loses his grip on reality as his transcription releases his inner demons. Simply put, Danielewski has created a tome that is truly meta- a maze of interconnected narrative with its own shifts, diversions and bewildering turns that often lead to the frustrating dead ends that plague any who enter. Even the formatting of the book is not straightforward, with its varying typeface, colors, text orientation and spacing.  House of Leaves is not an easy book to travel through, but it is certainly immersive and haunting for those who are willing to devote the time to digging through its depths.