The debut novel by Mark Danielewski House of Leaves came out in 2000. The book almost immediately gained a cult status. It was really unique. It was the first work, in which the fonts and lines of the text have become an important part of the narrative: the movements and sensations of the characters the author transmitted and amplified through the printing techniques – the lines were bent, sometimes they broke and fell, ran into each other, and ran apart. It looked fresh and unusual, and some critics have seriously compared Danielewski with Joyce and Pynchon.
House of Leaves became for reading America an object of worship. Fans of the book did tattoos with quotations and illustrations from a novel, produced clothing – T-shirts and sweatshirts – with prints in the form of receding lines.
Danielewski’s novel is a profound meditation on the theme of love, but do not relax: it also has space for chilling mystical moments. That’s the beauty of experimental prose: it confuses the reader that enables the author to manipulate one’s feelings. The narrator says that he often has nightmares. In fact, he has them so often that he says he should have already gotten used to them. And by the end of the book, readers truly feel the nightmares.
House of Leaves has also a huge number of footnotes, some of which represent notes to footnotes. The author often refers to the fictional books, films, and articles. Some pages are only a few words arranged in a strange manner, as if provoking both agoraphobia and claustrophobia. The narrative in the novel is conducted on behalf of a number of characters, which together interact in the course of action, but also mislead the reader. In this case, as soon as the word passes to a new narrator, the font in the book changes. Danielewski believes that in this way it is much easier for the reader to follow each of the stories.
The novel begins with first-person narrative by Johnny Truant, an employee at Los Angeles tattoo salon. Truant is looking for a new apartment when his friend Lude tells him about the flat of the recently deceased Zampano, a blind, elderly man who lived in Lude’s building.
In the apartment Truant finds a manuscript written by Zampano that is an academic study of a movie, The Navidson Record.
The rest of the novel includes several narratives, Zampano’s report on the film; Truant’s autobiographical remarks; a small transcript of part of the film Tom; a small transcript of interviews of many people regarding the movie; and occasional short notes by unknown editors. Truant’s mother is also another narrator, whose voice is presented through a set of letters.
The debut novel by Mark Danielewski House of Leaves came out in 2000. The book almost immediately gained a cult status. It was really unique.