House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

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House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby Saturn » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:25 am UTC

Great book, or unbelievably great book?


I nearly went cross-eyed from reading it, but it was just so good. If you haven't read the super-mega-book, do it. You know, the one with all the highlights and such.



Discuss.


ST here. For the record, this is, as far as I know, the one and only thread where red text is permissible by nonmods. I know for certain it's the only thread in High Culture. And even then, the red text is only used for.. certain things.

Do keep that in mind. - ST
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Postby FiddleMath » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:43 am UTC

I got bored, and stopped. I get the idea, I just don't particularly want to experience it. *shrug* But at the time, I was already lost in (for me) mind-bogglingly abstract spaces of mathematics.
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Postby Narsil » Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:21 am UTC

It was a fantastic book for me, but I think I'm kinda in the minority. Most people don't seem to have the patience for it.
Spoiler:
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Postby Bakemaster » Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:24 am UTC

People keep talking about it. I should read it, but I owe the library $10 and I can't take out books until I pay them back. And I have the money, I've just been lazy about it. And reading anything by Gene Wolfe is one step up on the list.

Nobody seems to want to tell me what House of Leaves is about either, despite my annoying them with improper formatting. Always "read it and find out".
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Postby Belial » Tue Sep 18, 2007 2:28 am UTC

I can tell you what it's about.

Alright, essentially, it's the fictional journal of a guy who found an extensive film review for a film that doesn't exist in his dead neighbor's house. The film documents a man and his family who discover that their house has hallways and doors that, spatially speaking, given the dimensions of their house, cannot exist. It documents their journey into these lightless, blank, shifting corridors, interspersed with notes by the journal-keeper, occasional comments about his life, and how reading the description of this movie is starting to drive him insane.

And of course, it's about a good bit more than that, once you scratch the surface.
Last edited by Belial on Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:18 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Ketzerei » Tue Sep 18, 2007 2:57 am UTC

Is it as awesome as it sounds?

Come to think of it, can anything be as awesome as that sounds?
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Postby scowdich » Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:15 am UTC

Just one of the intros - that to do with the short film, titled "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway" - is awesome enough to chill your bones. If it doesn't, something is seriously wrong with you.

This book needs to be a movie, and it would totally redefine horror movies (if the director doesn't fuck it up royally).
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Postby thefiddler » Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:43 am UTC

scowdich wrote:(if the director doesn't fuck it up royally).

Chances are, he/she would. Such is life. :/

Anyway, I never got to finish this book, as it was rudely ripped from my eager hands and lent to another friend and I haven't had the chance to acquire it since then.

But what I read -- some 50 pages -- was fascinating, albeit a little slow to read.
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Postby Narsil » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:15 pm UTC

Making a House of Leaves movie would be a one-in-a-billion shot. There would be one way you could make it that would be absolutely fucking perfect, and thousands upon thousands of diversions from that path that would lead to catastrophic failure.

Guess which one Hollywood would make.
Imagine The Amityville Horror, but with more sex and drugs and swearing and violence!
Now die a bit inside.
Spoiler:
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Postby scowdich » Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:50 pm UTC

Congratulations, Narsil. You've destroyed the last bit of soul I had left, making me a hollow, openly sociopathic husk.

Congratulations!
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Postby thefiddler » Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:34 pm UTC

Narsil wrote:Imagine The Amityville Horror, but with more sex and drugs and swearing and violence!
Now die a bit inside.

Old or new?
Well, both were equally horrible.
But the older one was slightly funnier.

And, yes. I just died. A lot.
I think it's time for me to go slash my wrists to vent my absolute horror at what you said. I simply cannot hold all this emotion in.
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Postby Alisto » Tue Sep 18, 2007 7:13 pm UTC

A movie of The Navidson Record would make a pretty good movie, though.

I recommend that after reading the book, you do lots of reading online. There's a lot of hidden stuff which changes how you can view the entire book. "My dear Zampano, who did you lose?"

Avoid Only Revolutions. House of Leaves was great; Only Revolutions was the literary equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:13 pm UTC

Alisto wrote:Only Revolutions was the literary equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting.


Got that right.
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Postby skilaatara » Wed Sep 19, 2007 2:17 am UTC

Hey, we found R'lyeh! Horrifying city of impossible geometry, presented as scholarship on scholarship on reports? It fits, doesn't it?

House of Leaves did what H. P. Lovecraft continually tried to do: it made a horror out of the unknown and impossible. I know Lovecraft has his share of crazed fans*, and I won't insult them by saying Lovecraft's efforts were a universal failure on his part; I merely mean they did not work for me. Lovecraft relied heavily on the exotic mystery of his ancient lore and his Elder Gods from before the dawn of time to unsettle his readers, and perhaps in the 1920's this was effective, but this is an age when we know what the Ancient Egyptians and the Babylonians and the Mayans meant by their mystical symbols, and it turns out to be nothing more ominous than the guest list for the high priest's barbecue and his sales receipts for the hot dogs and buns. We have year-round stations on Antarctica and probes on Mars, and we have a pretty good general idea of what to expect from Out There. To achieve a similar goal as Lovecraft's for a world in which the main suspense centers on how low human nature will stoop House of Leaves has to create a new uncharted space. Unlike Lovecraft's, this isn't an uncharted space in a region we know to be uncharted; it's an uncharted space that we know to be charted. The book doesn't rely on the setting or players being in any way exotic to us; quite the opposite. Somehow I can't imagine reciting Red Line stops would save your sanity in that house.

The book uses something of a distillation of Lovecraft's approach, I think, because it cuts out the suspension of disbelief. Flying shapeless monsters that defy the laws of physics are scary, yes, but that's because they're *monsters*, and they can *rip our guts out*. Explicitly describing them as breaking the rules of what is possible and describable makes them a little scarier than your more traditional dragons, because it moves them out of myth into a world that *ought* to be describable, but the badness of an encounter with a shoggoth is not dependent on the shoggoth's indescribability but on its great capacity and eagerness to do you and the world harm. 'Tis better to have lived and gone insane than not to have lived at all, no? House of Leaves dispenses with that by taking out the "rip your guts out" step. It's just a little more wall space in the beginning. There is nothing scary about that ...except that when you think about it, it makes a lie of everything. There are no limitations, no specifications, on that "everything", not "everything that we know about the surface of Mars or the properties of spider bites"; just everything. When we read about this, we are aware it's just a book, but House of Leaves makes this less comforting by adding more (not fewer) layers of abstraction between us and the core events. What I present to you here is analysis of what was presented to me as analysis of what was presented to them as analysis of what was presented to that presenter in turn as analysis of [...]** what was presented to that first level of analyzers as a recording of an event. I believe all of them but me are just fiction, but that's what nearly every layer has thought so far. I seem to be no different than they are in my response to the text I'm given. Navidson could be having us all on. So there you have it: us. We're a group, a fictional group, but where you draw the line between real and unreal, where you say, "This has to be fiction, and that has to be fact", is pretty arbitrary. There's me -- I'm real. (I swear!) Then there's the person who presented it to me. I'll call him the author, and I'll assume he's real. It's not completely impossible -- although I don't believe it happens to be true -- that this person is not the author, and that he presented it to me after being given it by another person, who had a pretty wacky mind. Of course, there's no reason that there couldn't have existed somebody else who gave it to him, and so the not-wacky guy passed it on to the not-author who passed it on to me. It's all within the realm of possibility down to the Navidson family purchasing the house and measuring the walls. Then with the smallest deviation in the inches of the outer wall, it's suddenly impossible, only by that point it's too late and you've stumbled into a world where geometry doesn't work and where sleep never comes and where you find yourself writing rambling posts in a forum about electronic representations of pen and paper representations of real live stick figures. It's true, goddamnit.

*Much like xkcd
**How many times does this reiterate?
***Which is why you should never do that, ever.
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Postby Belial » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:47 am UTC

Lovecraft had a lot of really awesome ideas that he implemented very poorly.

Danielewski implemented the same sort of ideas (inconceivable dimensions, the unknown, and human understanding of the universe being a tragically localized phenomenon) extremely well, and I love the crap out of him for it.

In other words, I agree.
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Postby Bakemaster » Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:30 am UTC

You had me at insanity.

It's a fucking shame I didn't read this *before* I went to the library today.
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Postby Belial » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:41 pm UTC

I would offer to loan you my copy, given I'm going to be up there in a couple days, but girl plans to get around to reading it, and she takes precedence. Sorry
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Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:07 pm UTC

The author will be reading aloud at the Porter Square bookstore on Oct. 2nd, for all you Bostony peoples.
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Postby Bakemaster » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:03 am UTC

Belial wrote:I would offer to loan you my copy, given I'm going to be up there in a couple days, but girl plans to get around to reading it, and she takes precedence. Sorry

Don't sweat it, the library system here is fantabulous. I can request a book from any of these branches and pick it up at the West Somerville branch just down the street. Now that I've paid off my fines I will take full advantage once again.
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Postby Nyarlathotep » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:16 am UTC

I'm in Japan, but I want a copy of this book.

Maybe for Christmas.

What's the best possible version to get and what's it called?
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hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.
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Postby scowdich » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:52 am UTC

Get the "full-color, uncut" edition. This has some words colored differently (and not just house in blue all the time, like on the cover); there's some passages in an entirely different "tone", so to speak, and this really effects the experience of the book as a whole. Any copy that includes only blue and no other colors is to be considered paltry and disappointing.
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Postby Belial » Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:15 am UTC

Odd. I assumed the different editions were a hoax.
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Postby scowdich » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:20 pm UTC

Maybe I'm just stupid, maybe I saw two different versions at the bookstore and opted for the fancier one. I dunno.
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Postby iridesce » Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:30 am UTC

Have you ever noticed the difference between reading a creepy book in daylight and reading it in the dead of the night while you're alone in the house?

The latter is an awesome way to read House of Leaves. Talk about being afraid of the dark.
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Postby bbctol » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

Ketzerei wrote:Is it as awesome as it sounds?

Come to think of it, can anything be as awesome as that sounds?


Yes. Yes it can. In fact, House of Leaves, xkcd, Saladin's Mom, Optimus Prime, and your mom are all exactly that awesome. Shame nothing else is.
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Postby scowdich » Sun Sep 23, 2007 6:49 pm UTC

Hey!

Aren't you forgetting someone?
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Postby Narsil » Mon Sep 24, 2007 1:24 am UTC

He got Bruce Schneier in there, I don't know what he's missing.

Oh, me. Duh, how obvious.
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Postby Ended » Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:53 pm UTC

Belial wrote:I can tell you what it's about.

Alright, essentially, it's the fictional journal of a guy who found an extensive film review for a film that doesn't exist in his dead neighbor's house. The film documents a man and his family who discover that their house has hallways and doors that, spatially speaking, given the dimensions of their house, cannot exist. It documents their journey into these lightless, blank, shifting corridors, interspersed with notes by the journal-keeper, occasional comments about his life, and how reading the description of this movie is starting to drive him insane.

And of course, it's about a good bit more than that, once you scratch the surface.

+3 enticement

I am going to buy this.

Seriously.
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Postby bbctol » Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:23 pm UTC

Narsil wrote:He got Saladin's Mom in there, I don't know what he's missing.

Oh, me. Duh, how obvious.


Well, not all of you. Just the part directly in front of the hip bone.
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby no-genius » Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:18 pm UTC

can we have a filter to change 'house' to 'house' ?
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby william » Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:02 pm UTC

no-genius wrote:can we have a filter to change 'house' to 'house' ?

But then we'd have Doctor House.
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby scowdich » Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:08 pm UTC

And he'd be awesome.
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby no-genius » Sun Sep 30, 2007 2:58 pm UTC

You want a permanent kidney transplant???
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby xndrew » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:48 pm UTC

I just finished this book about three weeks ago. I had a nightmare for the first time in my life while reading it, no shit.

The only thing that bothers me about the book is the fact that I'll never completely understand all the references, codes, and allusions, though I've been researching damn near everything in the book, from names to Morse code to ancient myths from Greece. I really just want to understand everything he's referencing, and my friends say I'm insane for it.
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby no-genius » Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:32 pm UTC

I'm almost certain that that is the intention (ie, to make you completely insane, just as it did the same to Johnny).

I guess don't worry if stuff goes over your head, you ever get it or you don't.
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby bbctol » Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:25 am UTC

xndrew wrote:I just finished this book about three weeks ago. I had a nightmare for the first time in my life while reading it, no shit.

The only thing that bothers me about the book is the fact that I'll never completely understand all the references, codes, and allusions, though I've been researching damn near everything in the book, from names to Morse code to ancient myths from Greece. I really just want to understand everything he's referencing, and my friends say I'm insane for it.


You realize a lot of those references are made up, right?
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby xndrew » Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:48 pm UTC

bbctol wrote:
xndrew wrote:I just finished this book about three weeks ago. I had a nightmare for the first time in my life while reading it, no shit.

The only thing that bothers me about the book is the fact that I'll never completely understand all the references, codes, and allusions, though I've been researching damn near everything in the book, from names to Morse code to ancient myths from Greece. I really just want to understand everything he's referencing, and my friends say I'm insane for it.


You realize a lot of those references are made up, right?


Absolutely. But there's also a great deal of non-made-up references. And also a great deal of codes and things of that nature built into the book as well. Like say, according to wiki "The endpapers of the US hardcover edition of the novel contain hexadecimal characters, which are actually an AIFF audio file of an excerpt from Poe's track "Angry Johnny" when saved as a file in a hex editor." I'd have had no clue about it if I never wiki'd it, and that sorta bothers me.
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Re: House of omgwhyamIturningmybook Leaves.

Postby Pathway » Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:17 pm UTC

william wrote:
no-genius wrote:can we have a filter to change 'house' to 'house' ?

But then we'd have Doctor House.


He's okay with this. I checked.
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House of Leaves

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:18 pm UTC

Not sure if theres a thread for this already. EDIT: THere is, sorry. Merge/delete? Merg'd.

A book about a guy compiling papers by a blind dead neighbor about a man documenting the process of discovering his house is larger inside then outside. I don't remember buying it; someone put it on my bookshelf. It was full of stickies and margin notes.

Never in my life has the process of reading a book been so engrossing.

Spoiler:
When Navidson is cycling through the tunnel, and the text is getting smaller, I felt my vision closing tinier and tinier... Johnny's story about the ghost. The photograph at the back (Man looking inward/outward I think?) The house eating his brother...


End of the book spoiler/question:
Spoiler:
The letters from the mother made me wonder if Johnny and his entire obsession was in fact a figment of her imagination, as it seemed to indicate that she didn't have a son...? Thoughts?
Last edited by Izawwlgood on Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:49 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: House of Leaves

Postby rrwoods » Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:59 pm UTC

:shock:
I was *just* about to start reading this book (like, in literally a few minutes), so I came here to see if there was a topic on it (I had remembered a few forum members saying they liked it). And here we are, a fresh thread.
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