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House of Leaves

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 31, 2006 3:54PM

HOL10_31_06.jpgDammit. Our heads are reeling, and we’re feeling, don’t know, slightly under the weather … like the room is shaking, and our heads are shaking and shit … shouldn’t have snorted all that coke, feel like strangling someone, need piano wire.

Where is that letter? The letter, where is it, where did we put it? That letter about this month’s Convince Us. We were reading "House of Leaves," and Scott Smith of Chicagoist wrote this review. We don’t know where Smith is now, guy seems to have disappeared. He always had all these cats around, what happened to the fucking cats, ah here it is, here’s his review:


So I finished (1) "House of Leaves” this weekend, and I'm left with two feelings: mild confusion and self-satisfaction at finishing a long journey. And I think that's exactly what the author wanted.

Unlike the house on Ash Tree Lane, Danielewski creates a structure for this novel that allows for all manner of time shifts and mood swings without completely disorienting the reader. The cascading bits of text add to the suspense, and the occasional word in blue type or odd symbol made me feel like I was looking over my shoulder every minute. The inclusion of "real" world references, the footnotes (2), and the appendices all gave me the feeling of walking through this twisting, turning house.

I don't know about you, but I found myself skimming large portions of the parallel story of Johnny Truant (3). I know he's supposed to give the reader some solace as a fellow confused traveler, but after a while it was a little like Devil in the White City (4), where I just wanted to get back to the crazy house.

Fancy, stylistic, sleight-of-hand is often used to mask a lackluster story, but I thought any portion of this book was strong enough to stand on its own. How 'bout you? (5)



We agreed with much of Smith’s writing. Although we were confused at times by "House of Leaves," we loved the read and even liked the confusion. We were wondering the whole time what might happen to Navy and his family, often thinking he was going to go all Jack Torrence on his family, only to find out we were completely wrong. The book itself put us on edge, and the twisting and turning around of pages had us all riled up. We’d like to say we finished the entire book, but admit that we skipped pages on certain diatribes (we know more about echoes than we ever have). We loved reading about Johnny Truant flailing into madness, and thought his stories of violence were some of the scariest parts. Alas, we fear for Mr. Smith, as we feared for Truant. We just hope he didn’t go there, to that house. We saw him leave with a tape measure and a video camera. Alack, we may never know what happened to Scott Smith.

1.Did he finish it? We’ll never know, it seems no one else has finished it. Did he read all the letters from Truant’s mom or the massive amounts of Pelican Poetry? Smith says nothing about this in further writing.

2. Once again we’re left to wonder from Smith’s ramblings whether he did indeed read all the footnotes.

3. Personally we loved reading about Johnny Truant’s mad ramblings, now where the fuck are those cats?

4. We’re not sure why "Devil in the White City" was crossed out, no further notes or explanations have been left by Smith.

5. Smith’s familiar tone here is disturbing, as if he knows something is about to happen to him.

@. Smith often refers to himself as “Scott the Magisterial”, why did Smith leave this moniker out of this letter, also considering the friendly tone in which he writes?