Killer Thursdays

Exploring the House: Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves

Welcome to Killer Thursdays, where everything goes bump in the night…

*Winners for author Jay Squire‘s giveaway are announced at the bottom*

At long last, I have procured a copy of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves[1]. I was hesitant to read it for two reasons. Yeah, I know it’s been out for a good long while[2] and I’m kinda late to the party.

At first, the hype put me off. Any time tons of people are shouting about a book or movie, my inner rebel stomps her foot and refuses to join the crowd. Plus, the reviews all sounded too intellectual[3] for a horror novel. And the book’s buzz sounded an awful lot like a superhero’s creation story.

You’ve also got all that business about how the novel’s put together. Not only is it a story within a story within a story yada yada yada, but it’s also got all the funky format stuff. There are notes and footnotes[4]. There’s “handwritten” notes and seemingly random lists of words and names. There’s the whole thing with house[5] being blue.

And then there’s the idea of the story itself. Any book promises to change our lives, even if only in the smallest way. And so many people have claimed that House of Leaves has really, really, really changed them. Terrified them. And so maybe I was the teensy-weensiest bit scared to dive in and explore the House myself.

Once I open that door…can I really close it?

I’m going in with a rope around my waist. If I’m not out in (however long it takes me to finish the thing), send in search and rescue[6].


1  okay…maybe I didn’t exactly procure (which is defined as “to obtain or acquire by special effort) it so much as request it from the library. Once it came in, I just popped by the library in the car and picked it up. No real special effort required. But still, I did have to request it ;).

2 It was published in March 2000. Out longer than my kiddos but not quite as long as hubby and I’ve been married.

3 I consider myself reasonably intelligent and in possession of a decent vocabulary. And when I have to pick up a dictionary to get through a review…it kinda puts me off. You know?

4 Aren’t these fun? Maybe I’ll make them a regular part of my posts[4a].

5 Which just kinda makes me want to select one random word per post and color it. What about you?

6 Make sure they’re equipped with coffee and chocolate and maybe some whiskey.


4a Okay. I’ll stop now[4aa].


4aa I mean it. I’m really stopping…soon.


Have you read House of Leaves and lived to tell the tale? Any experiences you want to share? Any advice or warnings before I continue further?


Announcing the winners of author Jay Squire’s giveaway. The following two folks will receive a free copy of Jay’s RSVP: Invitation to  an Alchuklesh Massacre:

Congrats! Please drop me an email at sonia DOT m DOT writes AT gmail DOT com and let me know what email addy you’d like Jay to send your ebook copy.

11 thoughts on “Exploring the House: Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves

  1. Ha! I’m a huge fan of footnotes. I used to use them like mad.

    I haven’t read this book. But I’m like you. If I don’t get a hold of a book before all the buzz, I’m less likely to read it after. I’m so stubborn. But occasionally, I’ll give in, and sometimes a book will surprise me. I was that way with Harry Potter, actually. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson…

    1. Footnotes are kinda fun. When I was putting them up, I realized that they’re just like an “old fashioned” hyperlink. And here I thought hyperlinks were such a modern marvel. LOL.

      I waited on Potter too. But loved it. And Twilight. Am I allowed to admit I liked the books? 😀

  2. I haven’t read House of Leaves, but if it’s that scary, I wouldn’t be able to read it. Just too chicken. Bawk! Bawk! I’m glad you tied that rope around your waist!

  3. I don’t know who Mark Z. Danielewski is yet, but your newly discovered footnote fetish should make you an instant fan of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”. It is, bar none, the largest single-volume fiction book that I can think of, filled with huge chunks of appropriate, extensive, funny, random footnotes, sometimes including so much detail as to make up entirely new story arcs. You should definitely check it out. 🙂

  4. @Susie: You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

    @Lynn: LOL. So far, I’m not finding it too scary. It’s kind of interesting: the idea of finding a new, impossible space in your house…a hallway that shifts and branches. I can see how it might be scary but right now it just seems kinda cool. 😀 It’s an interesting book. So many things going on.

    @Tracy: Ooooh! Thank you. *adds Infinite Jest to reading list* I didn’t think I’d like the footnotes but they are proving to be fun. I may have to play with the idea for some of my fiction.

    This style of House of Leaves is so intriguing. It might be fun to do a collaborative fiction project with footnotes and hyperlinks. A whole bunch of stories that ping and pong off each other. Hmmm….I feel a writing challenge brewing. 😀

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