(I’m writing more than a month after I’ve finished reading the book, a month after having an illuminating face-to-face discussion with my reading buddies Monique and Angus. Does that mean I’ve fully processed it and teased out its true meaning? Hell no.)
This is the kind of book that challenges you to love it. And by that I don’t simply refer to the ornery nature of its text. House of Leaves throws so many negative things your way that makes you want to qualify how much you like it–not only the brash postmodernist posturing, but also its violence, its claustrophobic dive into several unquiet minds. But it also works doubly hard to win you back over to its side, reaching for honest sentiment and often enough grasping it.
“What I want the audience to do is to fall in love with these people, and really to care about them and that creates the suspense that you need. Love creates horror.” – Stephen King
(Read Up to Chapter 20 and Appendix B)
I keep resisting this novel at every turn. You see, I know that to allow myself to be completely sucked into the conceit of the book will fuck me up emotionally, and I’m not completely prepared to deal with the fallout. So I’ve done my best to distance myself–speed reading the really depressing Johnny Truant sections and listening to pop culture podcasts immediately after a stretch of reading in order to drown out the narrative voice. I’ve even read two other, happier books since I’ve made the last post. The story will probably still stay with me regardless. Continue reading
Six chapters or so into House of Leaves and I’ve decided for myself that this is a novel about compulsion. I think it’s essential for the reader of a book like this–that even explodes the idea of sequential reading–to find (or invent) a way to ground herself in the story.
The novel currently oscillates between two storylines, the first being The Navidson Record, a manuscript allegedly written by a man named Zampano about a film allegedly made by famed photography Will Navidson about a house that allegedly exists in Ash Tree Lane. The second storyline (typeset in monospace font) is Johnny Truant’s first person narration of how he came upon the manuscript and its effect on his life. The novel then acts as a sort of continuously zooming image with no end in sight–except perhaps a neverending hallway. Continue reading
I’m going to spend most of July doing a read along of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves with the fine folks at The Filipino Group on Goodreads. I’ve also lined up quite a few frothy books to act as a palate cleanser because I know from personal experience that this book can mess you up.
My first attempt at read HoL was in 2009, right after a family-related crisis and other stress-inducing events. The claustrophobic nature of the book really threw me in a loop, something that I didn’t quite expect because while I have been creeped out by books and stories before (I’m looking at you, Stephen King and Edogawa Rampo), it always involved some sort of catharsis. Danielewski’s written nightmares stay with you and fester.
And yet, abandoned books have the capacity to litter the corners of my brain. I approach it with a mixture of trepidation and fatalism. At least now I know what I’m in for. I expect to go through a million cozy mysteries to balance out my mental health, though.
In an attempt to be more organized, I’ll be using this post to collect the off-the-cuff updates I’ll be doing. I’ve also armed myself with a pack of colored paper for obsessive note-taking. Here’s to finally conquering this Mount Doom of a novel.
#1 – Inside the Place on Ash Tree Lane
#2 – The Labyrinth
#3 – Love Creates Horror
#4 – “Its roots must hold the sky.”
I obviously enjoy several serial webcomics. However, one of the big drawbacks in following a work in progress is that the payoff of a satisfying ending doesn’t happen for a long, long while. That’s why I appreciate folks who try their hand at one-shots. A particularly brilliant one is Emily Carroll’s Face All Red. A creepy, lurking animal of a tale, it was originally published around Halloween last year but I read the first few panels and decided to put off finishing the whole thing until the Christmas season. Believe me when I say that that is high praise.
Blue Delliquanti’s 24-hour project called Metamorphosis is the adaptation of a segment from Radiolab (my current obsession!). His drawing style lends itself very well to the poignancy of the original audio piece. I also love how he did everything within 24 hours.
If you have any suggestions for great one-shot webcomics, don’t hesitate to tell me! I’m always on the lookout for more.
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes
This is such a pretty cover, I wish my copy has this. Anyway, the short lifespan of his blog has already demonstrated my affection towards Ray Bradbury and his works, and I’m going to do more of the same today. Something Wicked is part scary story, part coming-of-age tale about two boys on the cusp of adulthood who find themselves confronting the burden of growing up and shedding the innocence that they’ve always enjoyed. It also features the scariest way to utilize a carousel ride ever. EVER. I stake my reputation on that.
I feel like Ray Bradbury’s works, with the exception of Fahrenheit 451, have been largely overlooked, mostly because he opts to write using old fashioned, nostalgic language. His subject matter is also significantly less “edgy” than SFF authors like Robert A. Heinlein and Philip K. Dick. Still, if you want a good horror book, or a poignant tale of childhood and what we leave behind, I totally recommend this.
Max Brooks’ World War Z is fiction for the Discovery Channel / NatGeo junkie, that special breed of people who regard Shark Week as a red-letter holiday. Masquerading as a collection of interviews from survivors of a global zombie apocalypse, the book succeeds in taking a ludicrous premise and making the reader take it seriously.
Brooks does a good job at setting up the beginning of the zombie infection. The disease first emerges in China before slowly spreading around the world, both through regular air travel and human trafficking. The public was initially lulled into a false sense of security by a combination of government propaganda and predatory businessmen. By the time the existence of the zombies becomes impossible to deny the human race is already in the middle of a losing battle that ends up killing hundreds of millions and turning them into flesh-eating machines.