21 thoughts on “HOUSE of LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski

  1. “This is not for you.”


    INTRODUCTION by Johnny Truant
    pages xi to xiv

    “For a while there I tried every pill imaginable. Anything to curb the fear. […] a few lung rasping bong hits,…”

    The Introduction is presented in a dark typewriterly sort of print with odd glitches of fade or superscript….

    “The police found Zampanò just like Lude found him, lying face down on the floor. The paramedics said there was nothing unusual, just the way it goes, eighty some years and the inevitable kerplunk, the system goes down, lights blink out and there you have it, another body on the floor surrounded by things that don’t mean much to anyone except to the one who can’t take any of them along.”

    That old man reminds me of the imminent prospect of my own kerplunk, and one of those ‘things’ is this book I own!

    And does the earlier Z. above now stand in for the supine Zampanò?

    • Pages xiv-xxiii

      “My best guess now is that he sealed his apartment in an effort to retain the various emanations of his things and himself.”

      A prophetic lockdown, with scarred floor et al, — as is, in turn, Johnny Truant’s own lockdown where he settles to read and absorb in real-time the gestalt of Zampanò’s ‘things’ as a massive manuscript entitled THE NAVIDSON RECORD. But you are already familiar with this now famous opening in literature, but have you TRULY relished the style of this introduction? It has the enormous hindsight of….the nature of its “endless snarl of words” about to be re-read in my own lockdown…
      I have already started scribbling “in the margins of this book”, as it itself suggests, amid “slow and subtle shifts going on all around you,…” Whether fiction or not,

      “…small connections starting to form, minor patterns evolving… […] what’s real or isn’t real doesn’t matter here. The consequences are the same.”



    Interview magazine quoted Harvey Weinstein as saying, ‘It is what it is.’9

    No need for anyone to re-rehearse this famous 2001 book, not even me.
    Just to give you my highlight thoughts about the book as its own house of leaves, now being marginalised by my pencilled notes. A haunted-place of a horror book as well as the mentions of UFO sightings in this first section, plus machinations in the avant garde, the filmic and the meta-, in tune with my recent review of XX, another massive bookhouse that also conducts its equivalent tricks of font, shapes of inner and outer typography and text’s actual meaning via semantic interpretation, but both bookhouses with different mindscapes. The addition of book to house obviates the need for superscript. But there is the need exhorted not to stop and stare, bearing in mind that nothing’s to be seen, really? But one can, I find, absorb more than what is there, those odd angles and slants that each reader will peer into as bespoke worlds. The footnotes in different fonts depending who of Zampanò and Truant added them. And the ‘subtitles of incomprehensible onomatopoeia.’

  3. II

    “All too often major discoveries are the unintended outcome of experiments or explorations aimed at achieving entirely different results.”

    55EC1070-2B0D-4C76-9BFA-1C368F86F530Well, you already know of NAVIDSON and his wife Karen and children, and the piecemeal film* that he made of them in every room of the bookhouse, bits of the film as done in real-time later being jellied into gestalt, depicting the family’s nature**, but here we continue to pick up the attention the family and this film received in hindsight by dint of now reading the footnoted references to that attention, attention and study from the often respected wider world.

    *“…attempting to capture some kind of catholic or otherwise mythical view.”

    **e.g. the hairbrush incident as separate from the later brushing of the child’s hair during candlemaking, and Karen’s reference to the water heater and the later analogy in the text of Karen when comparing her to a radiator … and the coincidence — a coincidence that prefigures the sort of wild cross-references over the years in my gestalt real-time reviewing process — the coincidence of a long footnote by Zampanò that is effectively an ‘O Henry’ type story of himself being a pit boxer and a climax involving crates of exotic birds: in fact a story within a story as told to girls with whom he and Lude associated while not brushing but cutting their hair (!), an ostensibly “fake” story, but with “a greater story still looming in the twilight…”

  4. III

    “If the house were indeed the product of psychological agonies, it would have to be the collective product of every inhabitant’s agonies.”

    … as gestalt of the real-times of each passing resident of the abode where Navidson now lives as the currently reported passing resident in the past?
    Or a premonition of the overall “The Editors”?
    Truant’s footnotes sometimes tell their own story of the shenanigans of himself and Lude, the latest being initially (and perhaps significantly) a footnote on Dante (“and by the time I was eighteen had already slept in a whorehouse in Rome.”)
    And, meantime, the actual text that is thus footnoted represents Navidson’s earlier loveless childhood and later his growing need to snap things as photos to preserve the permanence of fleeting happiness when he feels it, this initially being the impetus for the filming of the equally initial nostalgic residency of this house – with the belt and braces of the bookhouse itself (unsuperscriptable as well as unsubscriptable) that I hold in my hands? Any incipient amaurosis, notwithstanding.

    “We all create stories to protect ourselves.” (Truant)

  5. IV
    Pages 24-28

    “In anxiety one feels uncanny. Here the peculiar indefiniteness of that which Dasein finds itself alongside in anxiety, comes proximally to expression: the ‘nothing and nowhere’. But here ‘uncanniness’ also means ‘not-being-at-home.’ [das Nicht-zuhaus e-sein].”

    40B33FB2-BFF7-4505-A6E9-D0E42BEA64D8…this being an extract from the translation of a quote from Heidegger, a quote that fits uncannily with my earlier coincidental review here this morning of THE EVIDENCE where I dealt with the uncanny per se and the anxiety in the book that then related to my real anxiety in another coincidental review today there linked! This translation appears in a footnote that is ostensibly a Truant one, a footnote that strongly exhorts us not to allow ourselves as readers to wander our gaze into the periphery of this book for fear of the ungraspable and much more that is — amid this footnote’s F expletives — disturbingly effective in conveying various aspects of the uncanniness with which this bookhouse is being incrementally imbued. This footnote itself is appended to the resultant video shots of the intrusive uncanniness or “spatial violation” felt by the Navidson family when they returned to our bookhouse after their intended refreshing break away from home…

    “…the horror was atypical. No one could deny there had been an intrusion but it was so odd no one knew how to respond.”

    • Pages 28 – 31

      “The way I figure it, if there’s anything you find irksome — go ahead and skip it. I couldn’t care less how you read any of this.”

      …and even if that granting of an easement seems if it is a truant Zampanò talking via Truant or the Editors, I think I may have actually abided by that easement the first time I read this bookhouse. But now I myself am an old man like Z, I am more fustian and am determined to study/measure its text as Navidson did his abode, when he discovered the ‘spatial violation’ after he and his family returned from vacation. Measured it and worried about the merest quarter of an inch!


      Meanwhile, I note a footnote has a measurement built into its name that makes a huge 12 inches!

        • Pages 31 – 40

          “‘To read’ actually comes from the Latin reri ‘to calculate, to think’…”

          The nagging discrepancy of measurement resolved by a domino-rally of books on a shelf? As preluded by the spirit-level and mental and actual backstories of the new characters come to help with the measuring: Will Navidson’s brother Tom, a friend of Karen called Audrie, and Billy Reston, all watched by the cameras, later reviewed by those scribblers and academics interested in the films — and even later written about by Z and Truant, with the latter’s own O Henry style, and they in turn watched by us readers of this bookhouse or some unknown editors or gestalt reviewers. Along with the riddling of riddles and a footnote’s pre-Covid kissing games as seen by me from post-Covid times. Not to speak of Tolstoy.
          I advertise for others to help triangulate the coordinates of this bookhouse, i.e to help with MY measurements of it. Backstories not required.

  6. V
    Pages 41 – 50

    “tears her to pisces”

    “Except I only coughed. I didn’t cough.”

    2B6BFEE2-32E0-42DB-862D-6BF7FB730520And I realise, perhaps for the first time, the manic torment within Truant in empathy with or as a truant form of Z, black afterbirth in anti-natal spasms etc, “boiling deformation”, just from one fling with “flung down empty hallways long past midnight”, in the context of this whole echoing prelude to the Navidson House effects of echo, and amid the consequent feast of footnote symbols other that 1, 2, 3…. Plus the admirable avant garde of recurrent passages with our perceived alteration, plus Wordsworth et al. Sincerely, I don’t think anyone has recognised the sheer textured sophistication of this book, as sown by and within all sorts of arguably unsophisticated souls.

    “…to even dimly comprehend the shape of the Navidson house, it is still critical to recognize how the laws of physics in tandem with echo’s mythic inheritance serve to enhance echo’s interpretive strength.”

    • Pages 49 – 54

      “She still drives me nuts. Just thinking of her now and I’m lost, lost in the smell of her, the way of her and everything she conjures up inside me, a mad rush of folly & oddly muted lusts, sensations sublimated faster than I can follow,…”

      For someone who writes smoothly as that, even as crepitating as O Henry, Truant uses the analogy of ‘symphony’ with this woman without knowing anything about symphonies! He may even have a TV dinner as his heart, himself! Yet, I know where he is coming from: coming from footnotes – footnotes forming the gestalt of a separate but inter-accretive novel about himself, Lude, his lives and his scrapes, being a courier novel seeping to and fro in oblique echoing (?) synergy with The Navidson Record (please see a similar but also quite different effect with the two novels in Austin Wright’s Tony & Susan that I happen by chance to be simultaneously real-time reviewing here) — and, meanwhile, The Navidson record has much more about ‘echoes’ and Echo, and the mathematical formulae of “resonance frequencies”…
      (By the way, Truant calls that woman, with whom he has both soared and plummeted in love, Thumper! – because of the tattoo on her breasts, I gather.)

      “an acoustic impedance in Navidson’s house…” (sic)

    • Pages 55 – 63

      “She does not seem to care when they discover the hallway has not vanished. She keeps her arms folded, no longer clinging to Navidson’s hand or stroking her children.”

      673DA630-6EBC-4013-B2EA-D9556746A527We learn more about Karen’s claustrophobia and other personal matters of the family that the film is trained by Navidson not to pick up. The bookhouse, as vehicle for such filming, is somehow a determinant of how they behave, with Feng Shui and marital sex. It is hard to imagine how famous this family has become simply because of this bookhouse, with consequent studies and so forth of their quirks. The sudden hallway, being just one catalyst. And inviting blank celebrities round for dinner – or at least left blank by Zampanò – and showing off to them such bookhouse glitches as this. Karen indeed is a very complex character, and if truth be finally known, possibly one of the most tractably important characters created in all literature, literature past and future, general and genre. Meanwhile, she stays hidden in this bookhouse, whatever I might say on this probably poorly attended website of book reviews.
      Alongside, I am now — if only in figurative ways — showing off this bookhouse as a monolith from ‘2001’.

      “How do I become President when I grow up?”

    • Pages 63 – 73

      “‘I better be able to find my way back,’ he finally whispers, which though probably muttered in jest suddenly catches him off guard.”

      Exploration A, and (contrast the shaky Blair Witch Project) with Navidson’s steady-hand filming this scary disorientating maze of new sections of his bookhouse, complete with Z’s long list of photographers’ names, and Navidson is finally rescued by a planted penny and small daughter Daisy playing always if not hallways. One needs to gauge how much this horror novel is a satire on books like itself or books like XX in the future, with similar long lists. Or vice versa. Even Finnegans Wake.*
      But Truant’s ongoing parallel novel of footnotes** is even more scary as tattooing with purple and black ink and screwing Thumper into a rainbow fabric dream all morph into one of today’s co-vivid nightmares….
      No calving glaciers in the wall left after the exploration ends.

      *my gestalt real-time review of FW: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/finnegans-wake-james-joyce/

      **”—Ed.” suggests in its own footnote that there are other means to justify the meaningful inclusion of Truant’s footnote novel, ones that would take a lot of work by the ordinary reader in cross-referencing different parts of this bookhouse. But if I can’t do just that with my already tried and tested gestalt real-time reviewing, it would be a poor deal, I guess.
      Perhaps I myself already am “Ed”, thinking about it.

  7. Pingback: The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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