House of Leaves
by Mark Danielewski
House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski, is a pretty long book but flows nicely. Kudos to an author who brings in 3-4 storylines using unusual methods to separate them: varied font sizes, mixing in art, playing with spacing on the page, and placing words on different parts of a page. The technique makes it easier for the reader to know which storyline he/she is entering. It is a book about a book/movie/experience and brings the reader in through its brief thirteen-page introduction, describing how Johnny Truant finds the work that recently deceased “Zampano”, a ‘mystery man’, leaves behind. Truant, the protagonist, is searching for the Navidson Record, the work that shares the story of a family by the same name, living in a haunted house in Virginia where disappearance and death rule the day! Truant’s own life, his friendships, his early childhood abuse, sexual exploits, drug and alcohol addictions, and the story of his parent’s abandonment play large roles in his own exploration of the Navidson Record. The writing is raw, great style, and the author draws the reader’s interest in the mysteries that the characters are all trying to solve. The author also adds another level of intrigue by adding celebrity feedback on the Navidson Record (Stephen King, Edward Albee, and key political leaders) and pictures of artifacts from the house, drawings of movements in the house, and sketches of portraits. This is a full-package book with multiple stories and innovative structures. I never lost interest – in fact, I started the book in the morning and finished it by evening! Not bad for a 600+ book! I would recommend this one for those comfortable with non-linear storylines and a new approach to a novel. The appendices also provide a perspective that fills in the rest of the story on Johnny’s childhood.