Quickie: Sometimes all you see is black and white. But this is more of a rainbow day.
Overview: Drama (and possibly melodrama) could very well be on your agenda. At the very least, you can expect secrets, intrigue and whispered conversations. Don't be mad. At least one of those conversations could lead to a delightful encounter.
So. House of Leaves. Discuss.
I ended up reading all night, pretty much until five am, and finished the last 150 pages today. (They go pretty quickly, because they're mostly appendices.) Once you really get into the breakdown of "Exploration #4," yeah, it gets creepy. But I never really found myself... scared. I think I found myself too involved in the specific characters--I never felt any of this could actually happen to me. I mean, the doors on my hall didn't start giving me weird looks or anything. And I really ended up liking Tom, and I hated what happened to him, in the way that a satisfying tragedy upsets you.
I did like the way the book kept throwing all these possible clues at you ("It's a door to another dimension! The house was built by aliens! It's haunted! They're crazy! It's a hoax!") and then batting them back down. At the end, the house just is what it is.
The weirdest thing I kept noticing was the random connections between characters that were never explained. Zampanò has claw marks on his floor, too; Daisy and Johnny's mother both have a prized Spanish doll; Karen and Johnny's mother both practice their smiles in a mirror. There are tons of random things like that--to the part where I kept getting confused and started wondering if so-and-so was secretly related to so-and-so. Like Daisy had come into possession of the mother's doll. Or if Karen was Johnny's mother, although by the end of the book--not to mention the timeline--that's clearly impossible.) And let's not even go into the fact that Navidson is reading House of Leaves, the book Johnny has annotated for you to read, which Johnny also finds in the possession of a band at a bar--before he's finished it, with his name on it. I don't even know what to make of that.
I could have done with less Johnny Truant, by the way. I mean, I appreciate that his drugs-n-strippers exploits are a refreshing counterpoint to the constant footnotes (and the footnotes to the footnotes), but... I mean, there's a point where I get tired of his rambling. And I got really annoyed with the way he kept saying, "Then I was torn to pieces and I died. Okay, I totally didn't. Then I killed this guy. Okay, I totally didn't. Then I carried this girl off and raped and killed her. Okay, I totally didn't..." Like, five times in one paragraph. I mean, given what you find out about his mother, I understand that the boy's a little crazy, but... GAH. And I didn't really know what to make of the end of the Johnny text--the story about "Dr. Norrell" and the baby and all that. I mean, I know Johnny has mother issues, but... what? And his timeline was so garbled that I couldn't really tell where the story left him at the end, except that we know he's alive, because the "Editors" are still in contact with him.
I think the book interested me most on a technical level--Danielewski does several things with the footnotes and the translations and the search for the translations that I'd like to try. [Initially I talked here about some things I'd like to do with a story, but... I think I might should keep that quiet and let it surprise you when I finish it.]
Anyway. House of Leaves. Have y'all found out anything about it, or seen something that I'm just not seeing on a first reading (there will be a second)?
(Wikipedia: "What's very interesting is when different levels of reality interact with each other. The most obvious is how Zampanò is believed to have been violently killed, presumably by the minotaur, which then haunts Johnny. At one point in Zampanò's criticism he refers to himself in first person as being in the Navidson house. Another well-known part is where Johnny's mother, in the one of the letters she sends him from the asylum, includes a coded message addressed to Zampanò. There is also the similarities between Johnny's revelations about losing his mother, and the original partial release of the Navidson documentary, the seven minute hallway [sic]." Ooooooookay.)
And yeah, the Dionaea House site has a lot in common with House of Leaves--but what I find to be interesting is that HOL focuses on the treachery of the house within itself, while the Dionaea house is a predator able to reach outside itself and lure people back. As far as I can tell, once you're outside the Navidson house, you're safe.