reviews{ House of Leaves

Spoiler alert: this post contains no WOW-related events, people, photos or themes.

I've just finished Danielewski's House of Leaves, a lengthy book that has (1) generated its own cult following and (2) dragged around our house for awhile, both reasons which prompted me to read it. The book is quite engaging, replete with a relatively complex narrative structure and a reasonable ghost story. It even contains obscure literary references and mocking tributes to academic publishing, but somehow I can't bring myself to strongly recommend this thing. The novel and most ambitious part of this book is not overtly narrative, but structural- I spent a lot of time thinking about Derrida, and had to laugh when he (J.D.) was directly cited in the text. The flow of the story, as well as the arrangement of text on the page, are designed to evoke the physical experience of the narrative space. This effect was well-executed in many places, but detrimental to the book in others: clumsy passages were frequent and themes were self-consciously repeated into mindless overexposure. Moreover, Danielewski needs to learn when to say when; the textual arrangements themselves slipped from entertaining structuralism to creative-writing class hell every so often.

Net: Two and a half stars (out of 4)

As an aside, Danielewski's sister wrote a song for her debut album that seems to involve the narrator of this novel, and which appears in hex on the back cover. See video below:

1 comment:

AllThingsSpring said...

Still in my barrister cabinet.

Still awaiting a read.

Still probably easier than Finnegans Wake.