Saturday, September 24, 2011

House of Leaves pgs xi-53

So, I had a chance to make some headway on HoL, and my reaction so far is... mixed? The intro by the tattoo character who finds the manuscript was interesting enough. I found the voice really obnoxious though. Only a bit at first, and I thought that maybe it was something I could get used to, but then I loved the tone and voice of the actual manuscript so much that I found the times when the first voice butted in to be annoying distractions. And when his voice starts becoming rambly and almost delirious, I honestly started tuning out, which is not a good sign in a book where people kept telling me to pay attention to every word.

But oh, the Navidson Report! So good. I love hearing about this film, reading this close analysis of something inexplicable and imaginary. The logical and thorough way they deal with the discovery that the house is one quarter inch (then 5/16 of an inch) longer on the inside than the outside is so perfect. It never once feels contrived. It is even more unsettling because nobody wigs out or just starts reacting right away. They assume, as anyone would, that the problem is them. I find this really engaging, and even just 50 pages in, I've started to hate the boring intrusions where the tattoo shop guy talks about drinking and fucking and being weirded out by smells. I don't find the voice authentic at all, and I've started skimming.

As for the blue text for the word house, I've been thinking about this as I read. It's an interesting device actually, because it constantly reminds you of the house in a way that's different from just mentioning it all the time. I liked the idea of people finishing the book and still seeing the word house with a sort of blue afterglow, like lexical eye fatigue.

Friday, September 23, 2011

House of Leaves.

So, a while back, I remember reading someone who was posting about Infinite Jest as they read through, half to encourage themselves not to abandon reading it (as they had before, and as everyone does I imagine) and half to try and make sense of it. Writing things down is often much more linear than thinking them. In your head you can go around and around, and when you write things down, you can progress. At least, this has been my experience.

So, I'm going to write about House of Leaves while I read it. I've known about it for a long time now, my friend Randy was the first person to recommend it to me. But lots of people have told me about it since then. And I think now is the time.

So, here's what I know about the book so far, prior to reading it.

- I know that there's a lot of trickery going on, and have heard that at times the book convinces you that as a reader you are in danger. I find this a very interesting idea!

- I know that in the book, the word House is always in blue. I have the "remastered full-color edition" and it seems ridiculous to me to go to so much trouble just to make one word blue - and always the same word. But, I have not read the book, and my mind is open to the possibility that this will be meaningful and effective.

- I know that the house changes shape, with hallways and rooms moving. To be honest, this is the biggest reason I finally decided to sit down and give this book a go. I love this sort of funhouse of horrors idea, like that serial killer at the Chicago World Fair, who had a house with corridors that shrunk down to nothing, and trapdoors hidden all around.

- I also know (and really like) that in the index the word house and haus are blue, but also, there is an entry for house (black) with the page DNE (which I assume means does not exist.) I am a sucker for fun indexes.

Anyway, we'll see. I bought it in paperback because buying the ebook version seemed foolish, though for all I know they went to incredible lengths to match the typographical trickery. But, in my experience with ebooks, they most likely didn't. Let me know if I'm wrong, but in the meantime I'll be reading hardcopy.