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Summer reading that's worth reading

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some people get the luxury of free time over the summer, no reason not to put that free time to some use. It's been long enough since April exams that most people's eyes have recovered from the many many 4 am cram sessions. So why not put the time into a book that is so unconventional, you won't get any flash-backs to text books or course manuals. Why don't you check out House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Some of you might have already seen this novel, it's been out since 2000. That means you can probably get it used on the net for real cheap, and it's worth the shipping.

As for the book, let me try and explain this... The book comes upon Johnny Truant. Truant works at a tattoo parlour in LA. His friend Lude gets him the apartment of an old man that had just died, Zampanò. Johnny finds a manuscript in Zampanò's apartment. This manuscript is an analysis of a documentary that doesn't exist, The Navidson Record. This leaves three stories in the book. There is the naration of Johnny's life and history, the analysis by Zampanò, and the narative of the documentary.

The documentary follows Will Navidson, a photo-journalist, and his family as they settle down to a domesticated life in Virginia. Shortly after moving into the house, a door suddenly appears on an exterior wall. All logic would indicate that if opened, the door would lead to the backyard of the house. However, when opened the door reveals a dark, ashen hallway. Navidson is unable to stifle the adventurer in him and ventures into the hallway only to be chased out by a guttural growl that echoes through the labyrinth that has simply appeared in his house.

Johnny reads Zampanò's analysis and the Navidson Record that is contained within. He too begins to hear the growl and lose grip with reality... As Navidson explores the ever growing abyss in his home, Johnny explores the abyss that is his mind. He conjures up tales that are covered in grime and sweat, tales of drugs and sex from the streets of LA, counterpointed by his solitude and incapacitating phobias that grow as Navidson's labyrinth grows.

All the time the reader's mind is infected with darkness. The darkness of the abyss and the darkness in Johnny's mind. The book is written to represent the events in the book. A sentence expressing solitude might be left alone on a blank page or a moment of chaos might be written in jumbled lines intersecting as if they were written by hand in the dark. This book might give your brain a work-out, in fact, I think that is the point of the book. But it will be a workout that you're happy to have gone through by the time you reach the end.

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