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House of Leaves

House of Leaves was the debut novel by writer Mark Z. Danielewski. It became a legend before its 2000 publication when it was first released in various formats on the internet, quickly gaining a cult following. On its release it quickly became a best seller.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

Described by one critic as "an existentialist horror novel," House of Leaves deals mostly with the Navidson family, who move into a house that is somehow bigger on the inside than on the outside. As the house seems to keep inexplicably growing inside, some members of the family are compelled to explore, photograph and videotape its seemingly endless passages, eventually driving various characters to insanity, murder and death.

"The Navidson Record" sections of the novel are very academic in style, and were apparently written by a blind man named Zampano. When Zampano dies, a Los Angeles club kid named Johnny Truant is hired to clean Zampano's apartment and discovers "The Navidson Record." Most pages are littered with footnotes and all manner of references, some quite obscure, others indicating the Navidsons' story achieved national and even international notoriety. Such prominent figures as Stephen King, Ken Burns and Camile Paglia were supposedly quizzed as to their opinions about the house, but when Truant investigates the Navidson Record, he can find no history of any of its events or even the house's existence beyond Zampano's text. An alternate story line develops, detailing what is progressing in Johnny's life as he is assembling the narrative. The Navidson and Truant narratives are printed in separate fonts, partially to make it easier for the reader to follow the sometimes challenging novel.

Additionally, the text is arranged on the pages in such as way that the method of reading the words sometimes mimics the feelings of the characters in the novel. While characters are navigating claustrophonic sections of the house's interior, the text is dense and occasionally confusing, but when a character is running desperately from an unseen enemy, there are only a few words on each page for almost 25 pages, causing the reader's pace to quicken as he tries to discover what will happen next.

The unorthodox typography and arrangement of chapters or sections is similar to works by Milorad Pavich, allowing the reader to jump around from section to section at will while following footnotes or the multilayered narrative.

Some have noted similarities between the hispanic or latin Zampano and famed writer Jorge Luis Borges: a blind man seemingly obsessed with an invented world interacting with the "real" world.

The book was followed by a companion piece called "The Whalestoe Letters", a series of letters written to the character Johnny Truant by his mother while she was confined in a mental institution.

House of Leaves was accompanied by a companion piece, a full length album called "Haunted" and recorded by Danielewski's sister, Ann Danielewski (AKA Poe). The album features a track by the same name as the novel.

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