Review: House of Leaves

House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski

This book is one of those books that I love and I can't explain why. Experimental writing that toys with post-modernism, magical realism, and a haunting gets to me in such a way that I don't exactly know why... anymore.


The story, on the surface, is told in one narrative--the main narrative?--as a classic haunted house / ghost story. Weird, unexplainable things keep happening inside this house and everyone is freaked out. The stairs leading to the basement never reach the bottom--they go on forever. There are doors that appear one day and disappear the next. There are other doors that lead to different rooms in completely different parts of the house. Then there are doors that lead nowhere. The house seems to expand on the inside every day, yet it still looks the same on the outside. The family is, by all accounts, gradually driven mad. And then there's that growling noise in the wall? ceiling? floor? Where is that thing coming from?


The style of storytelling and the format of the texts are chaotic, which perfectly reflect the family's gradual descent into madness and the house's "true" form gradually taking "shape." The are words literally falling off the page half way into the book. The writing itself is so schizophrenic... it's amazing that it can even tell a story, let alone a scary one.


But if you take away all the weird happenings, scattered documents, and even the house itself, this is a story about the mystery of love--and loss?--as the author once said in an interview I read somewhere but now can't recall. Once I read his answer, everything about this book made sense and became clear(er). All the missing pieces and unanswered questions made more sense because of this one answer.


Hard to imagine, but this story is actually a story about love.