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Book Recommendation: House of Leaves

It’s over a decade old, but I just reread it so it’s topical in some way. The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski is a novel that is not easily labeled into any specific genre. Depending on how you read it, or where you think the real story is it could be a horror story, a psychological thriller, or a love story. Besides this difficulty in labeling it due to its content, it also can’t be labeled in terms of structure, e.e. cummings comes to mind when reading certain sections. The background of the novel is an academic study of a documentary film called The Navidson Record. In the Record, a man finds out that his house seems to be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It gets a little scarier when he finds a hallway to nowhere that had previously not existed.The academic account of this Record is begun by a man named Zampano who was working on the account when he died. The main protagonist, Johnny Truant, finds this account and finishes it, in a less than academic way.

The horror and love story part of this novel take place within The Navidson Record. The horror in this part of the novel is written in a somewhat Lovecraftian style, where the “monster” is never seen and your imagination conjures up demons more frightening than the author could ever hope to describe. Throw in some John Irving style love story and some existential quandaries and this part of the story is a decent read in itself, although it is not the best part of the book. We read Johnny’s narrative, interspersed with accounts of his life, as we progress through the Record. As the house expands in The Record, Johnny’s own mind begins to unravel into madness itself.

The novel is complex and multi-layered that each time you read it, more and more of the connections between the stories is revealed. This piece of intellectual fiction is on my all-time top 50, and therefore a must read in my opinion, which is really the only opinion that matters. Read it. Soon.

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