House of Leaves #4 – “Its roots must hold the sky.”

(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.

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House of Leaves #3 – Love Creates Horror

“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

House of Leaves #2 – The Labyrinth

(I’m sort of tempted to attempt some typographical fuckery for this post, but my CSS game is not that strong and WordPress wouldn’t allow me to anyway. I would like to note that this post mentions a lot of spoiler-y things)

So far I’ve read up Chapter 9 and Appendix II-E (Whalestoe Institute Letters). I had stopped reading before I got to learn more about the Minotaur all those years ago, so it’s one of the aspects of House of Leaves that still fascinates me in its absolute opaqueness. One of the things I think about is the significance of the crossed out text, especially since they invariably reference the Minotaur story, even tangentially.

Was it Zampano’s way of staving off the unknown horror that was stalking him? Had Johnny, by virtue of “restoring” the words, unwittingly invited this horror back into existence? Continue reading

House of Leaves #1 – Inside the Place on Ash Tree Lane

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

House of Leaves Readalong: First Post and Masterlist

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.

Readalong Posts

#1 – Inside the Place on Ash Tree Lane

#2 – The Labyrinth

#3 – Love Creates Horror

#4 – “Its roots must hold the sky.”

Book 2, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

It’s been a long time, blog. The longer one puts off a task, I found, the easier it is to avoid it altogether. Even though I still continued to read, I succumbed to work-related stress and my own laziness when it comes to reading my doorstopper books. I’ve decided to not to be too harsh on myself this time, and simply record my thoughts without straining towards any sort of synthesis. So I’m sorry for people who would be looking for plot summaries or full on reviews, because you’re not going to find that here.

Anyway, on to Book 2 of The Brothers Karamazov.

What is this book about? I seldom experience this anymore, reading a novel and failing to grasp, at the very least, what the shape the narrative is taking. On one hand, The Brothers Karamazov (Ignat Avsey, trans.) is about a family of screwed up landowners and the effect that they have on the people who love, hate, and work for them. It is also an involved examination of the idea of redemption–whether all have the capacity of being saved, whether it’s only for some, or whether it’s available for no one at all. I know that there’s a murder that will occur later on but I don’t think I’ll ever claim that this is essentially a crime story, either.

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Book 1, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Well, here is the Mt. Everest of my bogus enterprise, the most daunting of all the doorstopper books I’ve planned to read in 2012. I know that I’ve also endeavored to read Tale of Genji and Don Quixote but there’s somehow a unique weight that comes with undertaking a Russian tome.

I read the first volume of The Brothers Karamazov back in college but I can’t actually remember much about it. I’m quite certain that i have read up to the infamous Grand Inquisitor chapter but I can’t recall much beyond that. Dostoevsky has always been daunting to me; I’ve tried multiple times to get into Crime and Punishment but I always back away from the intensity of it. I’ve built up a certain apprehension towards The Brothers K as well and was quite surprised that this particular iteration, as translated by Ignat Avsey, starts of in a pretty inviting–even jaunty tone.

Four characters are at the heart of The Brothers K. The patriarch is Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his sons are, respectively, Dmitry, Ivan, and Aleksei (fondly called Alyosha by almost everyone). For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply list the pertinent events of Book 1.

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