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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 18 months ago by Canadian Girl


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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars best book, Jan. 15 2014
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This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
ever. I cannot recommend this enough - engaging, provocative and a genuine challenge. Do not hesitate to buy two and share with a friend - they'll love it too
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4.0 out of 5 stars METAFICTION AT ITS BEST, Dec 14 2007
By 
Benjamin Anderson (Fredericton, NB CAN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
A totally engrossing piece of meta-fiction. I loved this book, from beginning to end, though the Johnny Truant foot-notes passages were often boring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who says plot is the enemy of fiction?, March 26 2000
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
Don't believe -- for good or ill -- the opinions in circulation that equate this book with work by Wallace or Pynchon. It is its very own self, and the bits and pieces copped from (referring to?) DFW (endless footnotes, for example) and TP (the presence of a minor voice named "Chiclitz," for example), suggest more about Danielewski's tastes and methods than they do about his aspirations and intents.
I think.
At any rate, the amazing thing about this book is that for all of its deconstructive technique and filigreed mannerisms, it manages to tell a direct story in an extremely engaging way. In other words, fear not: A fine narrative lurks in these dark pages.
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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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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment, Aug. 11 2012
By 
Patrick St-Denis "editor of Pat's Fantasy Hot... (Laval, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
I've had Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves sitting on my shelf for about a decade. Since then, the novel has acquired a cult following and it is said to be one of the scariest books ever written. I was in no hurry to read it, confident that it would be awesome whenever I elected to do so.

Well, I finally did read it. . . And I don't know if it's because my expectations were too high, but House of Leaves can be nothing but a major disappointment for me. Indeed, for the most part, I was bored out of my mind throughout the book.

Here's the blurb:

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

What's it like? Hmmm, if The Blair Witch Project had been a novel instead of a movie, it would have been something similar to Danielewski's cult book. But House of Leaves is not really a novel; it's more like two narratives driving the story side by side. The first, known as The Navidson Record, was recorded by a dead blind man named Zampanò. It's a pseudo-academic study of what turns out to be a nonexistent documentary film shot by an award-winning photojournalist who just bought a new house so he and his family can enjoy a new beginning. Unfortunately, the house turns out to be haunted, which will splinter the family instead of bringing it together. As the plot goes, it is rather thin and nothing to write home about. No, it's the story within the story that truly is a feat of imagination. The footnotes, the appendices, the correspondence, the notes, the interviews,the quotes -- this is what likely helped this book achieve cult status. Yet to a reader like me, more focused on plot, these things were just distractions that always killed whatever momentum House of Leaves had going for it. The second, found in the footnotes, is that of Johnny Truant, the literary editor of this manuscript. Truant found the jumble of pages and notes in Zampanò's apartment when the old man was found dead. A sex, drugs, and rock and roll kind of guy, Truant is an assistant in tattoo parlor. But his life takes a dramatic turn for the worst as soon as he begins to read and compile Zampanò's The Navidson Record. More and more, it looks as though he will share Zampanò's fate.

I have to admit that I was engrossed and intrigued from the very beginning. Danielewski's oddly put together novel has a way of sucking you in and keep you turning those pages. But one soon loses interest, as very little actually takes place. Moreover, the excrutiating amount of minutiae found in the footnotes simply proved to be too much for me. In the end, I was just going through the motions, reading on and hoping that something interesting would finally happen. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be. Is it scary? Not one bit. Could it have been? Sure. But I have a feeling that Mark Z. Danielewski spent too much time padding up his narrative with quirky or pseudo-academic footnotes and appendices instead of focusing his efforts on the plot itself and the characterization.

I am acutely aware that this is what gives House of Leaves its own flavor, what made it the cult book it has become over the years. And it's all well and good. But unfortunately, it absolutely did nothing for me.

The pace is atrocious, made even more uneven by the panoply of footnotes and other devices that take you away from the story.

If you are looking for something weird, something completely different, something that you will either love or hate, then Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves might be for you.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars House of Psychobabble..., Aug. 9 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition (Paperback)
To the reader who looks at this book and thinks it is intriguing, they are right. However, when one delves a bit deeper into this book they find it is nothing but hogwash. This book makes fine kindling for fires, I must say. I opened this book to find nothing but psychobabble. A jumble of random pages strewn together to form a story. The pages vary from vast, typewritten monologues to blank pages with the word "the" to fill the space. There are pages with just dots and lines, some form of modern art perhaps. One page even has a random musical staff on it with notes. On the pages that are filled with words, some are upside down, some are crossed out, some paragraphs are boxed by blue squares. At the bottom of the pages is random, seemingly fabricated sources for the information. The book is not a novel, but rather a bunch of scrapped together stories to form a whole. It is rather pretentious and confusing. I felt stupid while reading it when I found a bibliography with psychiatric journals in the middle and then at the end when the index indexes every word ever used in the book, from "bat" to "hair" and beyond. Do yourself a favor and skip this book. Read some good literature, like Kerouac or Kesey or Burgess or Joyce. A bookseller I was talking with dismissed this book as B.S. and he was right. Stay out out of the "House of Leaves"!
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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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