House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
House of Leaves is without a doubt one of the least enjoyable books I have ever read in my entire life, but I can understand the fervor behind it. I take it that there are two camps who will read this book: those who love it (Which seems to be everyone I seem to know), and those who find it pretentious and a waste of time, which is the camp I happen to be in, unfortunately.
Let me just start this off by saying, I get it. I'm not going to complain and say, "I thought this was supposed to be scary." Upon reading the first 100 pages, I realized I wasn't going to be "kept up late at night" as one of my wife's friends said they were when read this book. The author, Mark Z. (Zampano?!?!) Danielewski wasn't going for that at all, and even that's part of the reason why people adore this book so much--it mocks the silly concept of classification that modern books have to go through today. But I can't read a book for gimmicks alone, and that's what this book is--one massive gimmick. From the blue words (Yes, I know, like a green screen is used in movies), to the pages with only ten words on them (I don't care if it's supposed to represent the journey through the endless abyss, and, in itself, be a commentary on the importance of space on a page. It's a waste of paper!), to the footnotes upon footnotes upon footnotes upon...it all just doesn't add up for me. The narrative, in the end, is nonexistent, and the characters are unlikeable. Again, I realize that this is meant to be "more than a book" with the way the story is constructed and put together and is actually criticizing criticism (groan), but I really can't stand books that I literally get nothing out of. By page 200 or so, the gimmick wears thin...and even THAT'S part of its "charm," I suppose. The needless length of books. Honestly, you really can't read into a book like this too deeply. It's actually inviting you to. But does that make it good? My answer to that is no. No it does not.
In the end, I'm giving it two stars because of its sheer audacity, but I can't stand that so many people have bought into this sort of thing, which is obtuse and intentionally meant to obfuscate. Again, please don't take me for an idiot just because I disliked this book. I get what it does, and I just don't like it. This sort of thing doesn't interest me. I much prefer plot and pacing. I much prefer engrossing characters.
I actually heard from a friend that this author's other books are even MORE gimmicky, but I refuse to read those. One book from Danielewski is enough for me. Not my cup of tea.
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