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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great.
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...
Published 23 months ago by Canadian Girl


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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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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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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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3.0 out of 5 stars Shows promise, March 1 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
You've probably already read the summary of this. There's a book written by a guy called Zampano (which, in some language, probably translates to Abdul Alhazred), that's found by a guy called Johnny Truant (whose main purpose is to pop up every now and again to say "Hey, look at me! Still nuts over here!"). And the whole thing is written by Mark Danielewski, who I always imagined sitting next to me, elbowing me in the ribs every time I passed over one of his jokes, just to make sure I realize how clever he is. "Taggert Chiclitz". Yeah. I get it, Mark.
Well, you know what they say. If you come right out and TELL people who you're stealing from, you can call it an "homage".
That being said, I DID find the Navidson Record pretty compelling. But Johnny Truant was just annoying. So the whole effect was sort of like watching an episode of Mystery Science Theater. Only Mike and the bots weren't very funny. And they were making fun of a pretty good movie.
Or, maybe it was more like watching a movie like Halloween with some guy who kept pausing it every five minutes to ask if I was getting scared yet. And thanks to his constant interruptions, I never did.
In any case, I'm just not sure what's supposed to be so new about this book. I mean, I've seen footnotes in novels before, and I'd bet Danielewski has too. Or am I to believe the head-in-the-microwave joke is just a coincidence?
Or maybe he thinks the oddly-oriented text will shock me to such an extent that I succumb to the vapors, and the mesmerist/phrenologist I keep on retainer will have to be summoned to my chambers to administer the smelling salts.
Seriously, Mark. This is 2004.
And, yes, there are hidden codes and things in it. But since the novel itself is so lackluster, looking for them is about as interesting as trying to find all the secret levels in a really crappy video game.
But, here's the thing. Being able to hide things in a story doesn't make you a genius. Go ahead and try it yourself. It's not hard. The hard part is convincing people that it's worth the trouble to DEcode it. It didn't exactly pull that off for me, but maybe it will for you.
And as far as the labyrinth itself goes, well, some stories don't really NEED re-telling, do they? Usually, when people use ancient myths in modern settings, it just feels ham-handed, like they're afraid maybe you didn't get it the first time and they're trying to pound the meaning into you, come what may. If I wanted that, I have the version with David Bowie and all the puppets on DVD.
Still, I didn't hate it, like some people seem to. It IS the guy's first novel, after all. I'm willing to give him another chance. And who knows? Maybe someday I'll get sick or something and looking for all the little jokes and puzzles will keep me busy for awhile. It beats crossword puzzles.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Concept Falls Short, Feb. 9 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
While I'm not a big horror fan in general, I enjoy a good psychologically scary story now and then, and I'd heard so much about this novel's unique set up that I was intrigued enough to give it a shot. My overall opinion is mixed. I found The Navidson Record portion itself fascinating, but after a while the lengthy footnotes from the narrator about the effect it had on his life, bored me. A large part of the problem for me was realizing early on that Johnny Truant was kind of a jerk BEFORE he stumbled across the manuscript. I couldn't muster much sympathy for him as his life fell apart, nor could I help but think that if finding the Navidson Record hadn't driven him into a personal hell, eventually the drug ridden lifestyle he was already leading surely would have. In addition, the one word per page and upside down text sections, which seemed intended to give the impression that you were reading this the same way Truant was, as a bunch of papers slapped together, just got annoying after a while and made the book way too long. In short, my three star rating is broken down as: 2 stars for The Navidson Record, 1 star for originality of design, and zero stars for unlikeable slacker Johnny Truant and his descent into madness. While I'm not sorry I read it, it's not one I'd re-read or highly recommend.
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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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