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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An experimental blast
This postmodern, typographically chaotic novel is a monstrous book, both in page numbers and ambition. It is the literary equivalent of "The Ring." As we learn in the introduction, Johnny Truant, a tattoo parlor employee, has come into possession of a trunk full of bizarre scraps of paper once owned by an old blind man, Zampano, now dead. The papers comprise...
Published on May 10 2004 by Debbie Lee Wesselmann

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Sizzle Than Steak
Judging by the number of people on the internet who list House of Leaves as one of the "scariest books I've ever read", I had high expectations for it. I'm usually not a fan of horror fiction, but people also called H.o.L. "clever" and "genius" which make me decide to give it a try.

I've just finished it today and I'm quite disappointed...
Published 3 months ago by S. M. Buck


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An experimental blast, May 10 2004
By 
Debbie Lee Wesselmann (the Lehigh Valley, PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
This postmodern, typographically chaotic novel is a monstrous book, both in page numbers and ambition. It is the literary equivalent of "The Ring." As we learn in the introduction, Johnny Truant, a tattoo parlor employee, has come into possession of a trunk full of bizarre scraps of paper once owned by an old blind man, Zampano, now dead. The papers comprise an exploration of a cult film called "The Navidson Record" and its sub-films, documentaries about an ever-expanding house that's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside and which consumes the lives of anyone who enters its dark hallways or watches the tapes. Johnny becomes himself obsessed with Zampano's papers and, in turn, with the Navidson house. He is haunted by the beast he smells and the descending madness he had no inclination to stop. The book itself is the melding of Zampano's papers, Johnny's footnote digressions into his own life and its troubles, and the debate among academics as they struggle to make sense of a film that probably never existed. The result is a dark, wild, often hilarious, sometimes excruciatingly boring foray into the meaning of home, family, love, and self.
The structure of the novel is innovative, with Johnny Truant's story unfolding in footnotes and in the appendices, while Zampano describes the film and the academics bicker over its meaning in the body. The most riveting narrative thread in this novel is of Navidson's and others' descents into the smooth walled, dark cavern of the mysterious hallway. The consequences on Navidson's marriage and on those he loves are devastating, and the reader is swept into both the horror and the need for hope. Johnny's story is less compelling, especially as the house fades into the background and his story takes over. The academic over-analysis is tons of fun - as long as you have the patience to get over the dryness to find the kernel it has been working toward. For example, early in the book, Danielewski (in the writings of Zampano) provides a lengthy academic discussion of the myth of Echo and its scientific and literary significance, only to derail it with a Johnny Truant footnote telling the reader that "Frankly I'd of rec'd a quick skip past the whole echo ramble were it not for those six lines . . ."
Even more bizarre than the telling of Truant's tale in footnotes is the typographical methods used to visually evoke the house in the Navidson Record. The words become their own labyrinth, with "hallways" of text enclosed in blue boxes; they sometimes inhabit corners only, or skip up and down the pages, one or two words at a time. When the characters don't know which way is up, the reader is twisting and turning the physical book to read upside down and sideways. You have to see the book to fully appreciate the visual hijinks Danielewski uses. It can take a long time to read certain sections, only to find that you can flip through several pages with just a glance at each.
Despite the suspenseful plot, HOUSE OF LEAVES is anything but a quick read. Its satisfaction is derived more from its individual parts than as a whole since it ends, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, not with a bang but a whimper. I recommend this for patient readers and for those who delight in experimental turns in fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Sizzle Than Steak, June 30 2014
By 
S. M. Buck (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
Judging by the number of people on the internet who list House of Leaves as one of the "scariest books I've ever read", I had high expectations for it. I'm usually not a fan of horror fiction, but people also called H.o.L. "clever" and "genius" which make me decide to give it a try.

I've just finished it today and I'm quite disappointed. Other reviewers note that the book founders in a mass of irrelevant footnotes, and they're right. I diligently read every one, giving credit to the author for forcing me down dead-end after dead-end, and appreciating the way he made my eyes physically live out events in the story. That is, I was constantly going backwards and forwards, feeling my way through meaningless miles of space. Unfortunately the story itself climaxes way too soon, and more with a whimper than a bang, and with hundreds of pages still left in your right hand. So, you keep expecting to get to the REALLY good stuff, the stuff that will "haunt your dreams" and make you "afraid of your own house". That stuff never materializes. Eventually I was simply plowing through it all, bored by the buzz of notes and the lack of dynamic plot.

One thing - I really think more people should have died. House turned out to be a weeny little soft-serve.

Anyway, there was real genius to the tension built up in the section dealing with "Exploration #4", but otherwise, meh. [tosses it into the donation bin] 138

138 See Chapter Six, footnote 82, Shan's Story as well as footnote 249. --Ed. 139
139 See Appendix H
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great., Oct. 2 2012
By 
Canadian Girl "CG" (Montreal, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
Based on the reviews here I was expecting to be completely freaked out or amazed or even a bit scared but that didn't happen for me. Yes, I loved the premise of the book within a book (with a documentary film thrown in for good measure) and, especially at the beginning, I found the story really interesting but other than the occasional "ooh, that's cool" moment I found that overall it was merely...alright.

I personally didn't mind the footnotes or the nearly blank pages or even the sideways / backwards text but I sort of hoped that it would pay off more than it did; if I'm going to put that much effort into reading a novel then I want to be blown away and House of Leaves didn't do it for me. I gave the book 3 stars because of it's originality and the basic plot but I can't in all honesty say that I truly, really enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenge, July 17 2004
By 
Karen Tobin "ladyangst" (Worcester, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
This may be the most complicated book I've ever read. There are layers upon layers and you can never be sure what's real and what isn't.
I won't say it's the best book I've ever read, but it's certainly the most ambitious and creative. The way the typography was used alone is unlike anything I've ever seen. It could have been simply a gimmick, but it really reflects the story as well.
A quick hint to people who like to read while doing something else--this is NOT the book for it. I took it with me to the gym and tried to read it while riding an exercise bike. Not a pretty sight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hot Stuff, June 15 2004
By 
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
I really don't feel like writing an essay like some of the reviewers have, but I would like to say that coming from the perspective of a not-so-avid reader, this book still holds up strong. It really is terrifying and thought provoking on so many different levels. I adore the 'unconventional' structure of this book, as well as all the taboo themes it deals with.
There is absolutely no end to the amount of ways there are to read this text(literally as well as figurativly). You won't be finished with it until long after you've finished reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Good, but...", Jan. 18 2007
By 
Shawn McCarthy (Winnipeg, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
Have read through this a few times now. Walks a thin line between intellectual commentary and pretentious drek.

If you can get past the Literature-thesis-project-on-acid feel of the book, the stories do work fairly well together. Wrapping a passible suspense story inside a paranoid descent and fleshing it out with some characters who at times intimately reveal aspects of themselves, the author does manage to tell as much with the gaps and discrepancies as with the stories themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars House of Mazes, May 31 2010
By 
Jamieson Villeneuve "Author at Large" (Ottawa Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
A few years ago, when I was working in a bookstore, one of the books we couldn't keep on shelves was called House of Leaves. It is an experimental book by Mark Z Danielewski and has achieved what can only be cult status.

I had never read it.

At the bookstore I worked at, there was a waiting list for the book. The publisher would only send two or three copies at a time and I was never quick enough to grab a copy. I would try to find the book in other bookstores, only to find it absent from the shelves.

So it was with pleasure that I found a copy of it at a bookstore in Montreal. It felt odd being able to actually hold the book. I've been waiting to read it for a long time.

It is, perhaps, one of the most bizarre books ever written. It is a story within a story and it defies traditional concepts of writing and words. Let me explain...

House of Leaves is really two stories, a story within a story (and within another story as well, but that comes after). The first story concerns the set up of the novel. Johnny Truant, a layabout working at a tattoo parlour, is called at 3am in the morning by his friend Luze. Luze is sure that Zampano, an old man who lives in the building has died.

They find Zampano's body, but Johnny finds something else as well. In an old trunk, Johnny finds a book written by Zampano called The Navidson Record. The book is written on pieces of paper, envelopes, on the back of stamps, on ticket stubs. Assembled by Johnny Truant, it is a dizzying book.

The Navidson Record is an account of the events found in the documentary of the same name by Will Navidson, a Pulitzer Prize winning photo journalist, who moves his family into a house and sets up cameras because he wants to document a family making a home, a family becoming one with a house.

But there is a problem with the house on Ash Street. Soon, rooms start appearing in the house that were not there before. And, more confusing, the house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The house is growing.

Through out The Navidson Record, there are footnotes by Zampano. But here's the thing: the film The Navidson Record doesn't exist. Neither do Will Navidson or his wife Karen Greene. None of the books that Zampano refers to in his footnotes exist, except for a select few. None of the people Zampano interviewed about the documentary The Navidson Record exist. The entirety of The Navidson Record is a fabrication.

But it has affect Johnny Truant nonetheless.

Sprinkled through out The Navidson Record, we also get to read Jonnhy Truant's words which become more and more disturbing and unhinged as we forge through the pages of House of Leaves. Soon we are not sure what is real and what is not. As Johnny falls more and more into the darkness, we learn that his mother was house in an insane asylum called Whalestoe. Johnny wonders if he is succumbing to the disease that stole his mother from him or if all this is real indeed....

Sound confusing? You bet. This is a sprawling monster of a novel. I haven't had to work at reading a novel in a very long time. Normally I want to be entertained; be the story happy, comedic or dramatic or sad, entertainment is my primary goal when I read a novel.

But between the shifting narratives, the shifting typeset, the numerous footnotes and everything else, the book is a chore. But a good one. While I'm reading it, I feel like I'm being let into this secret world that has been hidden from the general public, finally released to the light.

I know that sounds odd, but it's the tone of the book. It's this dark, brooding work of fiction that redefines what fiction is.

House of Leaves was followed up by The Whalestoe Letters. It consists of letters to Johnny from his mother while she was in the asylum. Though the letters are included in an appendix to the book, more letters and codes to break are included in the self contained version. So of course I got a copy of The Whalestoe Letters too. You can't have one without the other right?

House of Leaves is unlike anything I've ever read before. It is also an overly large book, both in scope and size. Twice the size of a regular hard cover and clocking in at a whopping 700 plus pages, the book is a chore and the mere size of it will put of most people.

Added to that the shifting narrative, the weird storylines, the confusing typesets making it almost impossible to read. This will put off more people. But those few who are able to persevre and read it will read something truly close to genius.

House of Leaves is one scary book. It frightened me and made me incredibly uncomfortable while reading it; which is the point, I think. It is also a love story about what people are willing to do to save the lives of those they love. Or protect them from danger they have no control over.

So yes, House of leaves is a chore, a monster, a challenge. But one that has to be conquered in order to appreciate it's haunting, bizarre beauty.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of those few books that changes the way you think..., April 19 2004
By 
Peter Servais "doomsoldier" (Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
Just flipping through the pages of House Of Leaves, one can see that it's anything but an ordinary read. Paragraphs written sideways, "missing" bits of text, and pages with one or two words on them, all help to develop the book's incredible sense of foreboding and unease. There are also a ton of footnotes included (many simply for interests sake), and going through them all makes for a considerably labyrinthine reading experience. In fact, there's a whole chapter devoted to labyrinths. Go figure.
While some tote this book as a thriller, I disagree. Granted, there are a few places where there is a feeling of suspense in the air, but most of the book is just really, really interesting reading. There are philosophical quotes, stories of life on the streets, examinations in psychology, and pretty much everything else included within the confines of it's pages.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about the book however, is it's deep dissection of it's own components (a novel that studies itself). The Truant and editorial comments, as well as the professional quotes all come together to create something of an examination of the book, within the book (it is written as a documentary after all), which leaves us with both more, and less to think about once we're through. On one hand, this professional dissection of the novel answers many of the questions for us, giving us little to wonder about. Adversely, we can take our own perspective on these examinations and develop a personal view of the events in the book. Despite all the theories, and interviews included, however, there is still a great deal of material left to our imaginations.
Overall, House Of Leaves may just be the best book I've ever read, and I recommend it to anyone who likes to form their own opinions about what they read. I will warn you, however, that the ending is somewhat inconclusive, and there are many unanswered questions. Depending on you're approach to the book, this may or may not be a good thing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Postmodern in matter and design, April 14 2004
By 
Daniel D. (Cambridge, MA, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
Danielewski's novel deals, in general, with the illusory nature of reality. His method of unfolding two (three?) stories through the use of creative footnoting makes the reader forget that it is, in fact, a novel, and not some non-fiction written by successive lunatics. The titular house is lovecraftian in its proportions and the horror of the book comes from the questions it raises (again like Lovecraft, through successively less subtle hints) about the our perceptions of reality.
This unreality is compounded by the fact that Poe's album "Haunted" references the novel as if it where real, leading the reader to half-doubt the appelation of novel as he or she becomes entangled in the fiction (now questionable in some remote corner of the reader's otherwise rational mind).
Even I was slightly discomforted when I found myself reading the last parts of the novel in a Holiday Inn in Williamsburg, exactly the place Truant finds himself near the end of the novel.
I would reccomend this novel to anyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Book That is Over Blown, April 8 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
At many points in the book, HOUSE OF LEAVES is a page turner in the extreme, with actual book turning in a counter clockwise fashion. Text is omitted, footnoted into absurdity, set into designs (which work to surprising effect), etc.
Without giving too much away, THE HOUSE OF LEAVES is about a man that finds and edits a manuscript by a dead blind man. The manuscript is an analysis of a fictious movie about a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside. Interested? You'd be surprised how facinating that premise becomes. This is really two novels, that of the editor, and that of the family the movie is about. When I say two novels, I mean that literally, too. Not two stories, but two distinct novels juxaposed together.
Much of the beginning of the book is boring. Many passages read like a textbook, which follows the schtick. It is in the middle and end of the book that Danielewski finds his voice. Once the plot takes off, you want to finish it, and many of the weirder elements of the book add to the aura of confusion.
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House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition
House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition by Mark Z. Danielewski (Paperback - March 7 2000)
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