Anyone who understands this work in its entirety understands, in its entirety, Neon Genesis Evangelion. (This is a law, not an assertion.) Thus, House of Leaves is Evangelion-complete. - TVTropes.org
Mark Z. Danielewski (1966-) is the son of Polish avant-garde film director Ted Danielewski and the brother of singer-songwriter Annie Decatur Danielewski, better known as Poe. He has a graduate degree from the USC School of Cinema-Television and has worked on sound for the documentary Derrida. House of Leaves, his 2000 debut novel, combines his interests in film and experimental art and has attracted a considerable cult following. Poe's second album Haunted was released simultaneously as a companion work.
House of Leaves is a dual novel following two distinct stories. Framing the work is the first-hand account of Johnny Truant, an apprentice tattoo artist in LA with a freewheeling life of sex, drugs, and hard Hollywood partying. His friend Lude invites him to the apartment of a recently deceased neighbor known only as Zampanò. A blind, solitary man who nevertheless unnerved the building's Herculean superintendent, Zampanò turns out to have been an imaginative and prolific writer who left behind a strange manuscript called The Navidson Record. Truant sets out to edit the many scattered leaves, some scribbled on the most unlikely of places such as the backs of stamps and envelopes, only to find that the thing is consuming him, sending him on a downward spiral of madness and paranoia. There is a monster afoot, lurking just out of the corner of his eye when he looks up from the pages, hiding in those hidden pockets without sound. It's always there. Concentrate on these words. Don't let your eyes leave the page.
The Navidson Record is a scholarly work discussing the titular film by photojournalist Will Navidson. Will, his girlfriend Karen Green, and their two children Chad and Daisy, age eight and five, have left New York City for an old farmhouse in rural Virginia. Will and Karen hope to repair their relationship, which has become strained due to his sudden, frequent, and often dangerous overseas assignments. To make the most of his new downtime, Will seeks to combine his craft and new circumstances in a film that will follow his family's adjustment to life in the country. But The Navidson Record is not the film he set out to make. Imagine returning from vacation to find a closet where there wasn't a closet before. The house, they learn, is bigger on the inside than on the outside. And it can get even bigger. In the miles of corridors and winding staircases, perpetually shrinking and expanding, something growls.
Beyond that, hell if I know.
Others more qualified than I have tried to explain this labyrinth of a book, where the text changes color and position and the footnotes frequently overwhelm the narrative. It is obviously, first and foremost, a postmodern work of psychological horror that explores the interaction between humans and the spaces we inhabit. Zampanò's imaginary scholarly sources interrogate Will Navidson's film from every angle imaginable, offering interpretations of the house that range from the Freudian to the pop cultural to the theological. The source of the growl is offered up as either the sound of the house shifting - similar to the groans of the Arctic ice that haunted stranded explorers - or a
It should be noted, however, that Zampanò's body was found besides a series of strange, deep gorges in the floor.
The book is Mind Screw like that. Like I said, hell if I know.
Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves was The Wolves' reading selection for October. (This post was very late.) Please feel free to join us for the rest! You can find the complete book list here.