House of Leaves

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House of Leaves is the debut novel written by Mark Z. Danielewski and released in 2000. It frequently appears in lists of "scary books" on paranormal imageboards.

Contents

Plot

House of Leaves deals with the plight of a young man named Johnny Truant, who finds the manuscript of a film analysis written by a blind, elderly man named Zampanò - a nested structure of a story within a story within a story.

The film, titled "The Navidson Record", documents Will Navidson ("Navy") and his family moving into a new home and documenting their new life there, until strange spatial anomalies begin to occur - not least of which is the appearance of a door in one of the house's rooms that opens onto to a hallway that seemingly violates physical spatial laws, which Navy begins to explore over the course of the story. This part of the story, referred to as "The Navidson Record", is primarily written by Zampanò, but contains numerous footnotes from Truant as well, usually him explaining the text, or narrating his own real life (mis)adventures - including one footnote that indicates his nature as an "unreliable narrator", admitting to editing parts of the text of the Navidson Record to suit him. Occasionally, Zampanò's own editorial opinions slip into the text, allowing slight insights into his own character.


The Navidson Record

The Navidson Record itself is a series of tapes describing the exploration of filmmaker Will Navidson's house. Navidson's house seems to shape and change itself at random, forming doors and hallways which lead on, seemingly endlessly. Most of the film is the exploration of a particularly large section of the house that forms in the living room. This hallway and its many rooms are spatial anomalies that violate physical laws, such as the corridor being far longer than the outside dimensions of the house. Navidson calls friends, family, and professionals to document their trek into the aberrant part of the house.

Format

House of Leaves uses unconventional and seemingly non-sequitur formatting, in that the book's page structure, typography and its physical attributes are altered. Some of the passages in the book are printed upside down or sideways, offset into strange geometric shapes of visual typographic images, include footnotes or footnotes of footnotes, citations for works that don't exist, and other textual oddities not often found in contemporary fiction. The word "house" is always found printed in a blue text, often in a different typeface to the rest of the text, the word minotaur is printed in red, as are a number of passages that have been struck out but remain in the novel nonetheless. Different "authors" of the book (that is, the characters narrating different parts of the book) use different fonts, and in some cases may employ special codes or ciphers to encode information.

Trivia

  • Mark Danielewski is the brother of the 90s musician Poe. Her song "Angry Johnny" is an homage to Johnny Truant and several songs off her second album, Haunted, are direct references to House of Leaves.
  • A short section of the novel is frequently posted as creepypasta, with Navidson's nickname, "Navy", being changed to "Davy", presumably by someone unfamiliar with the novel.

Creepypasta

A degenerated VHS dub was discovered in the University Library containing five minutes of inexplicable amateur footage. In one continuous shot, the camera momentarily focuses on a doorway on the north wall of a living room before the operator climbs outside of the house through a window to show the exterior white clapboard. The camera then moves inside the house through a second window completely circling the doorway and so proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that insulation or siding is the only possible thing this doorway could lead to. A hand appears in the frame and pulls open the door, revealing a narrow black hallway at least ten feet long. The camera begins to move closer, threatening to actually enter it. A voice can be heard, "Don't you dare go in there again, Davy," to which another voice adds, "Yeah, not such a hot idea."

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