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House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves (2000)

by Mark Z. Danielewski

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,556274384 (4.12)2 / 475
  1. 160
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (macart3)
    macart3: Those who read the "House of Leaves" will recognize how the house also consumes people in "The Haunting of Hill House" and the feeling that there is something unearthly inhabiting the house.
  2. 91
    The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (Liyanna)
  3. 50
    The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (PandorasRequiem)
  4. 30
    Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (fundevogel)
  5. 30
    Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Gravity's Rainbow = paranoia House of Leaves = claustrophobia
  6. 30
    At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien (Fenoxielo)
    Fenoxielo: At Swim-Two-Birds is the grand-daddy of all meta-fiction and House of Leaves owes a great deal to it.
  7. 20
    S. by Doug Dorst (PaulBerauer)
  8. 20
    The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan (ligature)
  9. 20
    Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For a sincere ambition to figure out what the hell is going on.
  10. 10
    Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Great experimental works where you get something different from the book depending on the order in which you read its pieces.
  11. 10
    Dave Made a Maze by Bill Watterson (aethercowboy)
    aethercowboy: Both works deal with a strange and deadly labyrinth that's bigger on the inside.
  12. 10
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (sduff222)
  13. 10
    Chunnel Surfer II by Scott Maddix (aaronius)
    aaronius: Another experimental narrative that takes you different places than ordinary fiction.
  14. 00
    Icelander by Dustin Long (sduff222)
  15. 00
    House of Stairs by William Sleator (Cecrow)
  16. 00
    You Should Have Left: A Novel by Daniel Kehlmann (amanda4242)
  17. 00
    The Way Inn by Will Wiles (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Another book with a protagonist who is deeply unsettled by the seemingly infinite building he is living in.
  18. 11
    Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber (guyalice)
    guyalice: The mysterious basement and the unending staircase draw parallelisms.
  19. 12
    The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (owen1218, ateolf)
    owen1218: It seems to have been influenced by this book.
  20. 04
    BLAME!, Vol. 1 by Tsutomu Nihei (Anonymous user)

(see all 20 recommendations)

Satire (26)
Romans (45)

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English (262)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (273)
Showing 1-5 of 262 (next | show all)
A story within a story within a story, about a house that is bigger on the inside and is constantly shifting, the family that explores and documents it, a man with questionably sanity, who writes a scholarly work on the house, the family, and the documentary they create, another man on the brink of madness, who finds the first madman's work and edits it, and the physical book itself, which reflects in various ways the labyrinthine nature of the house and the stories encircling it.
In other words, this one is WEIRD, folks. But in a good way, generally. There were places where I started getting annoyed and tried not to convince myself that the whole thing was pretentious and forced. But in the end the story of the house was too good to stop reading. ( )
1 vote electrascaife | Sep 2, 2018 |
It's really hard to know how to review this book.

This book is a multi-layered onion... A guy and his wife made a series of documentary videos about their extraordinarily strange house. A whole bunch of academics, enthusiasts, and conspiracy theorists wrote articles and books about those documentaries. A blind man read all of the scholarship and then wrote his own book about the documentary, but he dictated the book to a series of trascribers, and collected the unorganized and unfinished book in a trunk. When he died, a neighbor's drug-addled friend took the trunk and organized the book into a publishable form, along with a whole bunch of his own footnotes about how he's going crazy. Then, some unknown editor edited that, and published it, and that is what we are reading. So it's hard to say what this is "about," really, because there are so many frame stories.

On top of that, the book is famous for its typography. Not only are there footnotes (often with their own footnotes) and appendices, there are also pages where the words are arranged to tell the story. To be honest, this was the part of the book I was the most interested in, and also the part that fell the most flat for me. The necessarily disjointed experience of reading multiple layers of footnotes did contribute to the ultimately disjointed nature of the layered frame stories, but a lot of times, I didn't think the typography actually contributed anything to the experience. Sometimes the typography contributes to the dizzying sense of confusion and chaos (especially when it prevents you from finding the footnote you're looking for), but I don't think the word-pictures enriched the experience of the book.

The book has a lot of loose ends, which is in character with the chaos of the whole thing, but which left me frustrated. I kept waiting for a big reveal, or for the actual big scary scene, but they never happened.

To be honest, the storyline of the compiler, who does a lot of drugs and has a lot of sex and is slowly going insane in the rambling footnotes, didn't do anything for me. I could have skipped it and would have enjoyed the book just as much. Other than his growing insanity and paranoia, there doesn't seem to be any connection between his story and the story of the house.

The aspect I enjoyed the most was the satire of academia: all the footnotes and scholarship and long tangents about labyrinths were a brilliant commentary on academia's rambling self-importance. (My dissertation committee told me I needed to be more wordy to add 40 pages to my dissertation.)

So... I think this book deserves a lot of credit for being complex and clever and unique, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is a good book. It feels pretty masturbatory - Danielewski seems more interested in showing off his genius than writing an enjoyable book. ( )
2 vote Gwendydd | Aug 14, 2018 |
I can't disagree with Mr MJ Nicholls that 'House of Leaves' is nothing more than a glorified ghost story - ah, but what a ghost story... The playing around with page layout and fonts, the metafictions and footnotes, all make for good clean fun, adding to the enjoyment of the reading experience. And though ultimately it might have nothing much to tell us about society or the human condition, like The Babadook, it's strength lies in its story and style.

It's been reviewed nearly 9000 times already, so I'll waste no more words (there are enough of them surely in Danielewski's monster of a book). Instead, here's a door in my house which bears a spooky resemblance to something... Fortunately, it doesn't lead to the cellar as I don't possess one.

() ( )
  PZR | Jul 28, 2018 |
I DID IT! I somehow got through this book despite being scared to read it at night, but i pulled through and DID IT!

House of Leaves is a total mind bender. It several stories in one. The main one being around Karen Green & Will Navidson moving into a house that is bigger inside than it is outside. It causes additional strain on their marriage and they are documenting the strange addition to their house as Navidson and a team of men go explore the darkness. Except this is actually a movie, that isn’t real and created by an older blind man, Zampanò in his book that is analyzing the Navidson movie. He does into great detail to make the movie seem like it actually existed, he uses a mixture of real sources and made up ones (including fake interviews with Stephen King) to pull this off. Except Zampano is dead and his work got into the hands of Johnny Truant who decides to edit and add his own notes about his life and his findings. His life spins out of control and he’s wondering if its happening because of the book. Confusing right? But it’s not! The notations and fonts really keep you on track of what is happening to who. I don’t think there was a moment where I was confused.

The book is scary, but it’s also about relationships, the main one being the relationship between Karen Green and Will Navidson (husband & wife), the strain before the house, the additional problems because of the house and then eventually clarity that leads to repairing their bond. The other focus is on what the hell is going in the house, why is there this never ending room that expands and shrinks, multiple theories are thrown out there, but then you remember this is a novel about a novel about a fake movie that is being edited and the editor is also wondering is this somehow a real house and movie and is it making him crazy. He is not a reliable character at all and that just adds to it. Ultimately the ending is up in the air, the reader is left to make their own conclusions about Navidson’s house and Johnny (which is actually expected given some of the things said about the hallway, some people have to know and become obsess, while others can walk away from it and not care they don’t know the reason for it).

No doubt House of Leaves is intimidating, it is a long book and sounds complicated, but the layout of the book actually makes it shorter (many pages only have a few words), a good 200 or so pages are not part of the plot, but made up of index, exhibits and 2 appendixes. As for complicated, as I said I never felt confused about what was going on and was able to keep track. Mark Z. Danielewski is just a fantastic writer I guess, because I cannot believe he wrote something so in depth that was still easy to follow. It sucks you in, it plays with your mind and spits you out. Just amazing. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Jul 9, 2018 |
pg. 41: http://www.bounceapp.com/208967

For me, Danielewski’s work exemplifies the idea of multi-vocality and demonstrates it for readers in a variety of ways. I am most intrigued with the idea that we are “all standing on the shoulders of giants”; in other words, the idea that we reference authors of the past by reworking their texts or by embedding ancient characters and plots into modern contexts.

Many of the ideas in the book can be considered as echos of past authors. Myths are retold, ancient languages are translated, and authors are constantly referenced and cross referenced throughout the manuscript and footnotes. There is blatant evidence of Danielewski’s sources and inspirations, and it is clear that he leans heavily on works of the past.

resized_20160920_130222pg. 42-43: http://www.bounceapp.com/208974

The use of Greek mythology functions as a link to the revered authors of the past; we still reference and rework ancient texts, therefore creating a conversation with authors of the past. Ancient stories persist in modern contexts –stories are rewritten: multi-vocality

in a way, House of Leaves piggy-backs on ideas brought up in the myths of Metamorphoses, reworking the myth of Echo into a modern story (think of Karen as Echo, Navy as Narcissus) — thereby creating a conversation between Danielewski and Ovid.resized_20160920_130254

pg. 44: http://www.bounceapp.com/208977

SIGNIFICANCE OF ECHOS: echo greek myth,

The mirrored quotes claiming to be written by two different authors further illustrates the idea that authorship is not necessarily singular. Literature is constantly being recycled, and people continue to have the same thoughts, feelings, and ideas that people have had in the past.

The planetary glyphs used in the footnotes of this chapter have ROMAN names, rather than GREEK; represents looking at the same ideal through multiple lenses. The glyphs may represent some connection that the author (Zampano and/or Danielewski) was making between the characters he was writing about in the story and characters from, for example, the Greek myths that may have inspired his modern characters. The parts of the myth that has footnotes coorespond to the planet that was used for the footnote. (eg. The moon rules the emotion, and the moon footnote reveals a very emotional line from a very emotional character. Or, how the ☿ Muses studies would have been an intellectual task, and Mercury☿ corresponds to matters of the mind.)

⊕ Earth

♇ Pluto: Transcendence, metamorphosis. Pluto indicates a receptivity to other worlds. It gives us the power to transform into new ways of life. If the cross outweighs the crescent, we risk losing sight of the purpose of the transformative energies and become obsessed with power for its own sake, or to bolster our egos. If the upward crescent and circle outweigh the cross, we run the risk of detachment from reality or even psychotic episodes. (Greek Hades). // ♇ Pluto represents transcendence, as seen through the way two authors can supposedly relate subconsciously, how two people can be thinking the same thing at once.

♂ Mars: Assertion, desires, masculine. The Mars glyph represents the cross of materiality with a directed energy overriding the circle of spirit. Mars is the yang side of our emotional nature. (Greek Ares, god of War). // ♂ “I’ve spent ten years on Cicero” “Ass!”

☿ Mercury: Intellect, psychology, communication, the mind. The Mercury glyph represents the link between the spirit and matter, and between the soul and personality. It is represented by the crescent, the circle and the cross. It indicates the receptivity of the soul through the exaltation of the spirit over matter. // as ROMAN Mercury (rather than Greek Hermes): patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld // ☿ “The Muses’ studies” “divine ones”

☾ Moon: Emotions, the feminine. The Earth’s Moon would logically be an extension of the Earth as its satellite, and thus attunes us to impressions in the here and now, often referenced to the personal past and sometimes in the collective past, where it sometimes tempts us to remain. Our Moon also reflects, in various modifications, the light of our Sun to us, and because of our Moon’s proximity to us, it appears as a relatively bright object in the night sky, lighting up our surroundings in the apparent absence of our Sun. The crescent lines are doubled, indicating the high level of receptivity, perceptiveness, and sensitivity. // ☾ “Narcissus: ‘May I die before I give you power over me.’ Echo: ‘I give you power over me.’”

♃ Jupiter : Search for meaning, the need for understanding, responsibility and leadership. This planetary glyph represents the search for meaning and understanding. The Jupiter glyph represents the ascending crescent of the personality which is no longer confined to the material plane, which is why Jupiter moves beyond what you can actually see and finds gain. // as Greek ZEUS, god of sky and thunder, symbolizes power, leadership, guardianship/protection; associated with the principles of growth, expansion, improvement, spontaneity, opportunity, increase, aspiration, the higher mind, wisdom, enthusiasm, optimism, benevolence, generosity and gain through experience. // ♃ “‘O outcry’ returns as ‘love,’ ‘delays,’ ‘hours’ and ‘king.’”

∞ Infinity: In modern mysticism, the infinity symbol has become identified with a variation of the ouroboros, an ancient image of a snake eating its own tail that has also come to symbolize the infinite, and the ouroboros is sometimes drawn in figure-eight form to reflect this identification, rather than in its more traditional circular form // ∞ “‘Who will put an end to his great sadness?’ ‘The hours passing’”

☊ Northern (ASCENDING) Node: represents your karmic objectives in this lifetime. It points the way towards soul growth and evolution. // ☊ “Literature’s rocky caves”

☉ Sun: The Sun glyph represents the circle of unlimited potential, which is brought to Life with a dot in the center. The dot is your focus and where you will shine in Life.


Bloch, Douglas, and Demetra George. Astrology for yourself: A workbook for personal transformation. Newburyport, MA: Ibis Press, 1987. Print.
Danielewski, M. Z. (2000). Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves. New York: Pantheon Books. ( )
  amandaabend | Jun 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 262 (next | show all)
House of leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski runs to 710 pages: 13 pages of introduction, 535 of text, followed by three appendices and a 42-page, triple-column index.
added by KayCliff | editThe Indexer, Hazel K Bell (Aug 4, 2009)
... let me say right off that his book is funny, moving, sexy, beautifully told, an elaborate engagement with the shape and meaning of narrative. For all its modernist maneuvers, postmodernist airs and post-postmodernist critical parodies, ''House of Leaves'' is, when you get down to it, an adventure story: a man starts traveling inside a house that keeps getting larger from within, even as its outside dimensions remain the same. He is entering deep space through the closet door.

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Danielewski, Mark Z.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Santen, Karina vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuenke, ChristaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosmaer, MartineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is not for you.
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I still get nightmares. In fact I get them so often I should be used to them by now. I'm not. No one ever really gets used to nightmares.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart.
Haiku summary
One creepy closet,
Holds plenty of shoes, coats and
Navidson Records

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375703764, Paperback)

Had The Blair Witch Project been a book instead of a film, and had it been written by, say, Nabokov at his most playful, revised by Stephen King at his most cerebral, and typeset by the futurist editors of Blast at their most avant-garde, the result might have been something like House of Leaves. Mark Z. Danielewski's first novel has a lot going on: notably the discovery of a pseudoacademic monograph called The Navidson Record, written by a blind man named Zampanò, about a nonexistent documentary film--which itself is about a photojournalist who finds a house that has supernatural, surreal qualities. (The inner dimensions, for example, are measurably larger than the outer ones.) In addition to this Russian-doll layering of narrators, Danielewski packs in poems, scientific lists, collages, Polaroids, appendices of fake correspondence and "various quotes," single lines of prose placed any which way on the page, crossed-out passages, and so on.
Now that we've reached the post-postmodern era, presumably there's nobody left who needs liberating from the strictures of conventional fiction. So apart from its narrative high jinks, what does House of Leaves have to offer? According to Johnny Truant, the tattoo-shop apprentice who discovers Zampanò's work, once you read The Navidson Record,
For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how.
We'll have to take his word for it, however. As it's presented here, the description of the spooky film isn't continuous enough to have much scare power. Instead, we're pulled back into Johnny Truant's world through his footnotes, which he uses to discharge everything in his head, including the discovery of the manuscript, his encounters with people who knew Zampanò, and his own battles with drugs, sex, ennui, and a vague evil force. If The Navidson Record is a mad professor lecturing on the supernatural with rational-seeming conviction, Truant's footnotes are the manic student in the back of the auditorium, wigged out and furiously scribbling whoa-dude notes about life.
Despite his flaws, Truant is an appealingly earnest amateur editor--finding translators, tracking down sources, pointing out incongruities. Danielewski takes an academic's--or ex-academic's--glee in footnotes (the similarity to David Foster Wallace is almost too obvious to mention), as well as other bogus ivory-tower trappings such as interviews with celebrity scholars like Camille Paglia and Harold Bloom. And he stuffs highbrow and pop-culture references (and parodies) into the novel with the enthusiasm of an anarchist filling a pipe bomb with bits of junk metal. House of Leaves may not be the prettiest or most coherent collection, but if you're trying to blow stuff up, who cares? --John Ponyicsanyi

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

One of the most acclaimed fiction debuts of 2000, national best-seller House of Leaves influenced, and was influenced by, the music of POE, Mark Z. Danielewski's sister. Her highly anticipated new album, Haunted, which includes many songs inspired by House of Leaves, will be released in September 2000 by Atlantic Records.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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