This is part three of my real-time review of HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski and it will gradually appear in the comment stream below…

CONTINUED FROM HERE: https://etepsed.wordpress.com/938-2/


12 responses to “*

  1. 673DA630-6EBC-4013-B2EA-D9556746A527


    Pages 128 – 133

    “…the house itself not only carried the signal an incredible distance but interpreted it as well.”

    That seems to sum up this whole bookhouse’s SOS, so far. Holloway’s SOS when on Exploration #4 as well as the reader’s. Even that of the conscientious reader.
    And the Truant footnote — not directly attached to that quote, but starting on the very same maze-page where it is quoted — ensues and is worthy of it, telling of his having heard a domed ceiling (in a memory of his boarding school refectory) manage to speak like a ghost, the ghost seemingly of a girl he had then not yet met, but whom he did later meet in Texas and had sex with, even though he had never been to Texas! Are the machinations of general time-and-space in a discrete life’s events as disorienting as this bookhouse’s secret rooms and mutable hallways? The world in which we live as a single bookhouse? Is this the gestalt I have long since identified and have been seeking in literature as it is experienced in real-time — with literature’s evolving audit trail derived from the passion of each reading moment — literature being what I have long considered to be the most likely source of such a gestalt.

  2. 643276B3-6B3D-42C6-9658-0E6A935B9BD2Pages 133 – 152

    These appear to be the two very important footnotes 165 and 166, from which all else stems. Yet there is much more evolving here of “fact or fiction, representation or artifice, document or prank.” Stemming from Holloway’s expedition’s shrieking heebejeebees, we are thrust into a madcap typesetting and textual experiment with even worse effects on the reader, whilst comparing a haunted house with Hollywood movies and other documents and histories of voyages. A hoax or a genuine frightening display? With an academic bibliography! But ending this chapter with a genuinely terrifying Holloway hallway cliffhanger…

    “I’m desperately trying to crawl away, but it’s too late. Nothing can be done now.”
    — Johnny Truant

    PS: As I once infamously (in 2015) said of the then new Thomas Ligotti Penguin Classics collection –
    I feel that these stories — based on my having first read them just under thirty years ago and now re-read them in this momentous Penguin Classics book — represent an artful haunting blend of (a) literary or horror genre prophetic warnings about factors that have emerged in our world since their first publication and (b) a ‘fabulous hoax’ that is essentially an avant garde happening.
    They are couched in a beautiful original Gothic-Baroque prose style.” 

  3. The bookhouse in the outback of MR Cosby has a outback-joining garage with an inspection pit as part of the rest of it….and HoL’s filming explicitly becomes more like flash photographs at the beginning of its next chapter…


    Pages 153 – 165

     Every house is an architecturally structured ‘path’:”

    It is somewhat of a relief, as a reader, to be released from the previous maze-pages into the relatively open liberal spaces of sporadic blanknesses, and perhaps when I published the world’s first discrete blank short story entitled 4’ 33” in Nemonymous Two in 2002, I was already inspired to do that from having read this book by then, I think. But why these empty spaces to breathe in? Where is Truant, why has he gone literally truant, him and his footnotes? The last thing we hear from him in the previous chapter is: “I don’t even know myself.” 

    “Karen may lose herself in resentment and fear, but the Navidson we see seems joyful, even euphoric, as he sets out with Reston and his brother to rescue Holloway and his team.”
    The Hall a “preternatural hull”… and we mustn’t forget Reston is in a wheelchair. And nobody thought to build “handicap ramps” in this morphing Hallway, it is stated at one point!
    And another important part, some critics of this bookhouse seemingly, like me, believe that its mutabilities or straight mutations “reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it.”
    Almost a tautology, perhaps. The same with any great book, I’d say.

  4. Pages 166 – 179

    (Admittedly there is the matter where boredom, due to repetition, stretches time and space. I will deal specifically with this problem in a later chapter entitled ‘Ennui.’203)

    Amazingly, and I sometimes overstate my amazement at such things, these pages deal with ‘revisiting’ places in this connection. And I now relate this to bookhouses as well as places, because, alongside revisiting to review HoL, I am also revisiting to review The Sot-Weed Factor (here) and I have recently and explicitly noted its disorientating me by its new-to-me seemingly boring stretches of text as well as its magnificently entertaining ones. Here, Danielewski is seemingly joining in with this ‘game’ by providing increasing swathes of blankness!

    Furthermore — Structures themselves physically altered by perception as well as personal psychology underpinning that psychology, as if related to the fact that if nobody sees a tree falling in a forest, it did not really happen at all?

    “If one accepts Dahl’s reading, then it follows that Holloway’s creature comes from Holloway’s mind not the house;…”

    Is it significant, by the way, that ‘house’ printed in this bookhouse is subscripted far more than it is superscripted— rather than exclusively superscripted as its footnote numbers are?

  5. Pages 179 – 181

    “…who led me down a hall and then another hall and still another hall…”

    “Incarcerated within the corridors…”

    Glad to see Truant is still present — with his footnotes, as another long one interposes itself, yet his own anguish that he describes so vividly is heart-wrenching, a description that is for me almost prophetically his version of being in his own hollow Holloway Hallways as bound within each other, as a metaphor for today’s lockdowns and the medications required. The “dreams” he suffers being how co-⎌vivid dreams today prevail within all our sleeping patterns, I sense.
    Also he refers to Hailey’s earlier footnote to his own even earlier footnote, which reminds me of gestalt real-time reviewing and the time loops created by the internet today….

    “I must hear what I scream.
    I must remember what I dream.”

  6. Pages 182 – 245


  7. Pages 246 – 252

    Scattershot appraisal of the brothers Will and Tom Navidson, comparing them, inter alia, with Jacob and Esau, and the effect of Tom’s presence on the dynamic of the house and the events ensuing. There is much serious consideration and “exegesis” here about their hindsight fame and the ‘meaning’ of the two brothers amid all the academic and other research conducted about them. We all know how famous and consequently dealt-with they have indeed become, and I have no need to re-rehearse that here, give or take Will’s later potential subsumption by his “atrocity of that darkness.”
    Part of me tries to infer where this pre-and post-fame narcissism derives. The narcissism of the brothers’ parents as it is mentioned explicitly in this bookhouse? The freehold author himself thinking his bookhouse is more famous (and followed avidly by exegesic academics) than it really is? Zampanò? Truant? Some unknown Ed or editor? Even me, with this all-consuming presumption of a review? You? (It says at the very beginning of this book that it is not for you!)
    [Some of these scattershot extracts about the brothers duly has lines of “rzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” intervening sporadically. But what does the ‘r’ stand for?]

  8. Pages 253 – 261

    “Ghosts always go first for the one who’s alone. In fact, I bet they’re here right now. Lurking.”

    Tom’s story, represented by a series of radio calls as he sits in his tent a few miles into the Hallway. A sort of rescue base, I guess, for the others further into the Hallway. This story has a noticeably much larger print font, perhaps to obviate further blank pages, that were creeping in like a sort of fear? Yet he starts raving a bit, with a series of wild bedtime stories, as if his sanity is threatened. One is about a Captain with a red shirt and pirate ships, a scene that happens to resonate with the section of the Sot-Weed Factor that I am simultaneously reviewing.

  9. Pages 261 – 275

    “Well, I’ve changed my mind. The Pekinese belongs here. With Tom’s hand shadows.”

    Strong stuff, I think we were promised earlier. Johnny — in one of his footnotes splitting big-fonted Tom’s Story into two — matches that story as the equally double big-titted Johnnie (a woman with a slightly different name from his own) amid a whole past November of women itemised by Johnny and Lude as a competition in the numbers of women they have instead of writing novels for November! And a Pekinese that Tom, in his tent, sees as Mr Monster in his manic vision and hand shadows, a dog that comes to ill between Johnny and Johnnie. All the while that Karen is feeling sorry for herself and for her missing Feng Shui. Strong stuff, indeed, about which I have given you only half the story. And why did Will Navidson edit into the final film all this about his brother Tom for posterity and for readers like me reading about these films and manias here? We readers of this book need to triangulate all our bespoke coordinates of this book before cohering its ultimate gestalt, I guess. Not only that, all the latest coordinates of participants in this book need triangulating, too, should they still be alive beyond the words and films they left behind.
    Beyond the fact of being ghosts.