I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and picked a book I’ve been wanting to read called House of Leaves. I’m not even halfway through with it yet, but I’m already hooked (Actually I was hooked when I read the five lonely words on the first page: “This is not for you”).
Describing the book is something of a challenge because of its structure. At its core the book is a commentary by a man named Zampano on a fictional documentary called the Navidson Record. Apparently the film is about the lives of a family as they
chronicle their move into a new house. At first everything seems normal, but then just as they are settling into the house a door appears which should lead nowhere, but instead opens into a labyrinthine collection of halls and rooms that seem to shift and change at random.
Buried inside the fictional account of the fictional movie are many sections of exceptionally long footnotes written by a man named Johny Truant who has discovered the strange unpublished manuscript and taken it upon himself to make some sense of it. Apparently Truant is aware that the Navidson Record does not exist as a real film, and yet he is haunted by Zampano’s careful and scholarly accounts of the deeper themes present in it. Interspersed with his commentary on the book, Truant also leaves us with long sections of rambling seemingly unrelated prose about his own personal life. The two dialogs seem almost shockingly different. Zampano’s sections are orderly and structured, while Truant’s words extend themselves into rambling and frequently almost incoherent sentences that extend on and on so that they stretch your mind like a rubber band as you try to follow their path. It’s almost as if the two men represent the forces of order and chaos dueling for control back and forth back and forth, and yet they are both inexplicably haunted by the same affliction.
The description hardly does the book justice, but trust me when I say it’s worth reading. There is nothing I’ve seen so far in my admittedly short life that can be compared to it. I just wish there was more work like this out there.
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