Monday, 3 February 2014

reviewing the house of leaves

The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski gets some really good reviews.  Like this one in The Guardian.

I don't normally like scary books (and this book is definitely scary - see this great review), but I had to read this one.  Why?  Because of the way it starts...

The book is put together so that the inside is busting out of the cover, and on the first page is just the text you see here.

Within are footnotes on footnotes, side bars, and text boxes.  The word house is always blue (or grey in some editions), and any reference to minotaurs is red and scored out.

Some pages have sparse text, like this one, while others are jumbled and difficult to follow, with lists upon lists.  

The book follows the story of Will, Karen, and their family, who have moved house to reclaim their relationship, and got more than they bargained for.  The house is growing, and changing, and there might, just might, be something in it.  The story from there is incredibly testosterone fueled.  The only female characters in the main story are a little girl who, like her brother is undeveloped as a character, and the love interest (for all the men it seems), Karen, who is a mother and a former model.  Yawn.  In the side stories the women characters are just as caricatured.  So, rubbish women characters then, but perhaps a good story?

Lots of people like this book.  Lots of people love it.  The story is buillt around a detailed academic criticism of a non-existant film.  Obviously poeple have now made that film, or parts of it.  Here's a pretend trailer (showing just how boy-heavy it is).

What about me?  Well, I tried, I really did.  I am well used to stories without enough women characters, and I can really enjoy them.  I only had this book for two weeks and I tried to read it every day, but I must admit I skipped a lot, and when the time came to return it to the library I was a very happy bunny.

A page from inside the book, and it's not even
the most complicated one!
This book is very clever, and very interesting.  I'm glad I gave it a go.  But I can confirm that...

This book was not for me.

Have you read it?  Or tried to?  What was the last book you read that you didn't like (don't tell me if it was The Marriage Bureau for Rich People)?

This post was inspired by Fat Mum Slim's post on 50 things to blog about.  The full list of posts inspired by the list can be found here.  Here are some other posts you might like: