House of Leaves, by Mark Z Danielewski, is one of my favorite books. It’s right up on my ist next to Lolita and White Noise…but for completely different reasons.
This was the first book that used it’s typesetting against me as a weapon of psycological attack.
Let me explain.
House of Leaves is a story within a story. Different fonts represent different narrators, and the type appears to know no bounds except perhaps the page itself.
The arrangement of the text is meant to mimic the feelings and thoughts of the characters. Words are found upside down, backwards, and even in braille.
The fastest paced part of the book is printed with only a few words per page, forcing the reader to frantically flip through to read what’s next. In doing so, the physical activity involved actually raises your heart rate. Thrilling to say the least!
There are numerous codes hidden throughout the book, if one is so inclined to decipher them. However, they are by no means required to be solved to understand the story.
Oh, and did I mention it has a soundtrack? The Author’s sister, Poe, released an album, “Haunted” as a companion piece to the book. There are page numbers in the liner notes of the album that correspond to specific passages of the book.
Also, the endpapers of the book are hexadecimal characters, which are actually an AIFF audio file of Poe’s track “Angry Johnny” from her first album, “Hello”.
Until this book, I hadn’t really thought about books as being an interdisciplinary medium. It really changed the way I look at design, and still influences me today.
As for what the book is actually ABOUT…..I’ll just say that it’s about a house that is 1/4th inch bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Little solace comes
to those who grieve
when thoughts keep drifting
as walls keep shifting
and this great blue world of ours
seems a house of leaves
moments before the wind.
* all photos in this entry are not by me and are linked back to their respective authors.