Saturday, July 4, 2009

Something Uncanny

So, I'm presently reading House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. All that "needs" to be said about this book is that you will never, ever, read anything else like it. It is its own genre. This book, interestingly enough, mirrors its own plot (certainly yet another extremely clever maneuver by the author). This is because House of Leaves is every ounce as much a cult classic as the film (The Navidson Record) which is the book's main plot. In a second sense, this book is just as bizarre and alone as both the house and its new inhabitants.

The plot consists primarily of a family (Will Navidson, Karen Green, their two kids Lily & Chad and a cat & dog) who has recently moved into a new house on Ash Tree Lane in Virginia. Navidson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who has set out to capture something like an idyllic, quintessential american experience...on film. In his own words he states, "Personally, I just want to create a cozy little outpost for me and my family. A place to drink lemonade on the porch and watch the sun set." However, they soon realize that something in that place is very wrong. What begins as a very slight spatial anomaly becomes a most unsettling dive into the very nature of darkness.

I don't exactly need to say that Danielewski's book is, at worst, a monumental achievement in literature, but I think it helps to point that out. I have decided that Mark Danielewski is a genius. I cannot begin to assess the amount of time it must have taken to write House of Leaves. It seems that every single sentence is composed with all the others in mind, yet each one is uniquely clever and beautiful. Even the way Johnny Truant writes & speaks is unique to Truant, and perfectly flawed.

I have some reflection on this book, which I will spare you here, but I might post it in my personal blog at:

In order to bring this thing to a close, I should certainly recommend Danielewski's book to everyone who reads contemporary literature, enjoys the edgy, has an inclination toward the brilliantly strange, etc. Yes, it is at times a tale disturbing, dark and difficult to follow. But, please do not be discouraged, as this is an utterly essential, brilliant work of fiction, which should be invested in as soon as possible.
One wish of mine is to meet Mark Danielewski and discuss House of Leaves with him; however, even if I was so lucky to meet such a brilliant man, it wouldn't surprise me if he refused to discuss his work with his own family, much less a fan.

If you think you've got the resolve for this book then I urge everyone to pick up a copy and keep the tidal wave alive!


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