Thursday, March 31, 2005

House Of Leaves

posted by Tim Walters @ 8:47 PM

I've been busy with music and such, so it took me quite a while to read Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves (a Christmas present from Todd). It's famous as a typographical tour de force, with some justice. Interestingly, it's done almost entirely in the most generic (and ugly) possible fonts--Times for the main text (a critical analysis of a clearly fictional film) and Courier for the fictional executor's footnotes (which tell a parallel story to that of the film). I assume that Times was chosen to reflect the (explicitly stated) resemblance of the main text to a freshman paper (and Courier, of course, recalls a typewriter), but I found myself wondering if the real reason was that people would recognize the names, which are also mentioned explicitly.

So, um, oh yeah... the book. It's a bit first-novelish in places--there are some mawkish and/or cliched descriptions, and I found it hard to believe that the footnoter would have the vocabulary he did and still type "alot" and "should of"--but the horror stor(ies) are gripping, and the typographical tricks and metafictional aspects don't feel tacked on. Not quite Pale Fire, but very enjoyable. And my lunch waitress caught a look at the inside and said "What the heck is that?"

Plenty of opinions and speculations about the book at


At 4:34 AM, Blogger Todd T said...

Glad you found it to be worth reading. I wonder if Times New Roman was chosen because it seems to be the default in so much office software, and thus reminds one of memos and business letters.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Tim Walters said...

Or freshman papers--the central text is explicitly compared to one at a few points (good way to get yourself off the hook for any stylistic infelicities, too!).


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