House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
It's been a couple of days since (A. I had my Playwrighting final and had to watch some drab Hipster girl say the main character of my play's lines in complete monotone and (B. I finished Danielewski's massive... book.

I can definitely say that I have mixed feelings about both, but whereas my annoyance with the aforementioned hipster girl, I find that I have a supreme dislike that grows in my chest the more I think about this book. The only books that get me this angry are ones that I felt were handled in an awful fashion - the concept of the story is like a stunningly beautiful person and the author is an axe murderer who bluntly rips it apiece before your eyes. I can only tie my particular loathing for the way that this book was mishandled to Dean Koontz's *One Doorway Away From Heaven* as well as what I could stand to read of Stephen King's *The Stand*. Oh, if only those concepts could have written themselves.

Danielewski has a few major problems in this book that make me want to loathe his "masterpiece", and loathe it good and hard. Much like an intrepid axe murderer. Unfortunately - actually, fortunately - the heart of this book is strong, despite the author's efforts to crush it beneath the bloated weight of the extra two characters, Zampano and Johnny Truant and his own, well, bullshit.

The first main problem, as I have discovered as I have thought it over more and more, is that he has obviously been to college and he wants to show it off. Annoyingly academic language and characters who sound less like the trash of society, like they're supposed to sound like, monologue ad nauseum about hopelessly boring topics. It was mainly because of this that I walked away with a supreme dislike of Johnny Truant, who seems to have spent more time growing up in a library than being a Bad Boy, as Mr. Danielewski would like me to believe.

The second problem is the overbearing issue of the footnotes, which are supposed to serve a purpose - confusion and a feeling of being trapped - but also end up making the work a tiresome, fruitlessly unentertaining read. I suppose that the extent to which they were used seems to suggest that Danielewski thinks, again, that he's being witty and cute. When the vast majority of footnotes and red herrings do nothing, save to tire your eyes out, you start to miss the ones that are actually important when you get fed up with the author's lack of care in actually entertaining you, the reader.

The third problem is that of the entire narrative of Johnny Truant himself and to a lesser extent, Zampano, made me constantly question the importance of their characters in a story where I just wanted to know more about the Navidsons and the house on Ash Tree Lane. Every time the story forcibly was dragged away from Navidson's tale, I found myself growing angrier with the unneeded digressions of Johnny's personal life and sexual excapades and I found that I didn't care when his story FINALLY actually began to unfold. Zampano strikes me as being a frivulous addition to the narrative as well and I walked away with the feeling that with the exception of what little was really needed from both characters in the story, the author was lengthening a story out about a simple enough concept.

The fourth problem is the layout of the book and the use of blue in the font when the word "house" is used. There is really no point for the blue in the font, as I found that along with "house". words like "black" or "maze" or "Minotaur" could have also been colored, yet weren't. It came off as ridiculous and added to my perception that Danielewski was trying to make himself appear as artistic and intelligent over trying to just tell a damn story. The layout seemed to be a cool addition as the pages grew stranger and stranger, but then I just realized that it was a silly gimmick that added to the book's page count, with little to the contrary.

The fifth problem (spoiler free) is that the end does absolutely nothing and I feel as though the last part of this poor work of literature had been left out. When I hit the end of the narrative itself, I found myself in shock that it was, supposedly, over.

The sixth problem is the unneeded crap in the back of the book. Poetry, letters sent to characters and other crap litters the back of this book and lengthens out this book even more. I can safely say that although some of it did add to the mood of the book, none of the extra portions added to the narrative. All it mainly did was flesh out the characters of Zampano and Truant, which should not have been needed, if the author was skilled in any way in writing an actual narrative.

The only thing keeping me from rubber stamping this book as forever crap in my mind is the savior of this book - Navidson. If this book had just been about Navidson, I would love this, but then it would clock just over 200 pages, and someone like Danielewski couldn't let the world be bereft of his wit and miss out on the money he could get from an Novel as opposed to a Novella, so we get a good bowl of ice cream that has excrement poured on top of it. It's pretty difficult to try to extract that ice cream from under the poo, so you had better eat the stuff quick before it sullies your desire for the Navidson Record just beneath it.

What a pity, as the actual story behind this avante garde nonsense maze is a good one about obsession and true darkness and its fight against love and easily extinguishable light. This is no parody of academic papers that also functions as a decent narrative, it's really just insane exaggeration of academic work with some great story that was trapped within in.