Friday, August 30, 2013

Small Things and One Strange Book

First up today is VikLit's weekly hop, Celebrate The Small Things. (click on the pic to the left for a complete list of participants) Here's what I'm celebrating this week:

—Reading a good book. I'm about half way through Tara Tyler's Pop Travel and I'm enjoying it immensely. I have no desire to experience Pop Travel myself, but I am desperate to know...who's taking care of Audrey's German Shepherd?!?

—Family time. I spent an entertaining afternoon with my niece talking about fairies, ghosts, and blast-ended skrewts while shopping for notebooks and pens. And I'll be spending today with my brother and sister-in-law. Not sure what we'll be doing yet, but there will be lots of laughter, and that's all that matters.

—Speaking of laughter, I'm celebrating The World's End. This is one seriously funny movie, and I laughed a lot during it. My favorite line is probably "What the fuck does WTF mean?"


Next up is The Armchair Squid's The Cephalpod Coffeehouse (click on the pic to the right for a complete list of participants) where participants share a favorite book that they've read over the month.

My selection for this month is probably the strangest book I think I've ever read. It's called House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

This is what Goodreads has to say about it:

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.


So, what this blurb doesn't mention is that this is a story in a story in a story.  (And none of which, in my opinion, was all that terrifying. But, to each their own.) At the first level is Johnny Truant who finds a manuscript written by (2nd level) the recently deceased Zampano, a blind man who had been dictating the story (3rd level) of the Navidson family and their creepy house to a group of volunteers.  Zampano's story of the Navidson family is written like a critical analysis of a film, including an insane number of footnotes noting sources (none of which, you know, actually exist because the Navidson movie is made up). Then there are Johnny's footnotes which often times last for pages and only occasionally have to do with what you were reading about in the first place.

And then the book gets really weird. Not story-wise, really, but the way you have to read it. You have to hold the book  upside down and sideways. You have to occasionally read at an angle. And backwards. Sections are blacked out. There's text in French and German and Russian and Italian and Latin. Some pages look like this:



And there's one page which describes Navidson climbing a ladder. The text takes on the form a ladder and you have to read right to left in order to understand what's going on. 

But...it's a cool book. It's very well-written. I'm impressed with the quality of the writing. I was annoyed by a few things at the beginning (Johnny's first two paged footnote, for example), and didn't think I'd be telling y'all how great it is, but it's a cool book. It's definitely an experience, and I'm glad my significant other told me about it so I could track down a copy and take it on.

Also a cool note is that the singer, Poe, has an album called Haunted that was inspired by this novel. (Apparently, she and Danielewki are siblings). But the last thing I'm going to leave you with today is this XKCD comic also inspired by House of Leaves




Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend, all.

49 comments:

  1. That was a very funny line from the movie. There were quite a few, especially when they were trying to name the robots.
    I hope to dive into Tara's book soon. Yes, there are hundreds of books on my iPad, and I'm working on it!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Alex. I'm going to have to become a robot just to live long enough to read all the books I want to read.

      And yes, that part was also quite funny.

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  2. Awesome week! I can't wait to see that movie. I loved Tara's book! I don't ever want to pop either. No thanks! Have a great weekend!

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  3. I've heard of HOUSE OF LEAVES but never read it. I like your review of it, though, and might have to add it to the TBR list...if it isn't already there. :)

    Have a good weekend!

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    1. I think every writer should check it out. There's a ton of creativity to be found there.

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  4. I completely agree with "one strange book." I think it's probably the oddest book I ever read and you dissected it far better than I could've!

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    1. That's good to hear. I was very concerned I wouldn't be able to describe it properly.

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  5. I am also half way through Pop Travel and loving it - and now I have a new comedy to add to my must see list. Thanks.

    Rhonda @Laugh Quotes
    visiting from the bloghop

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    1. I'm so glad everyone is enjoying Tara's book. It's great to hear.

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  6. WOW! Reading like that sounds like a lot of work. It seems like I might get lost with that Inception kind of story within a story within a story stuff. Is it really hard to follow? What about for someone with raging ADD (like me) LOL?

    Glad you managed to squeeze in some quality family time. It's so important.

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    1. I didn't have too much trouble following it. Every now and then I had to backtrack to figure out what was happening, but it wasn't too bad.

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  7. That book sounds challenging to read.

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  8. Not sure I could read this book, I really quite traditional in my outlook. Great to see a review and explanation of it though.

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  9. I saw The World's End a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it! So funny.

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    1. I know, right? I wish it were playing somewhere closer to me so I could go see it again.

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  10. Tara's book is a fun read, and laughter is wonderful!

    The House of Leaves sounds interesting but what caught me is the title. I was in a play in high school called The House of Blue Leaves . . . but it was completely different - bizarre, dealing with the mental illness of one woman surrounded by totally selfish people, funny, sad, and just different . . . but there were no monsters.

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    1. Well, this book was all kinds of bizarre. =)

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  11. Love that line from the movie! It sounds like so much fun. Have a great weekend!

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    1. There were a lot of great lines in that movie, but that one really is my favorite.

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  12. I enjoyed Tara's book as well. I might like to Pop just once. You know, to say I have. :)

    That other book is just too weird for me.

    I really want to see that movie but I blew my movie money taking my son to see Percy Jackson 2. :)

    Argh.

    Happy weekend!
    HMG

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    1. I really don't want to pop. Ever. If that technology ever replaces planes, I'll stop traveling. =)

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  13. I'm seriously wanting to see The World's End. I know that's my kind of movie. :)

    And what an odd book. But I like when people experiment with their stories and try new things, so I might look that one up.

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    1. I like that, too. I really didn't expect to like it.

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  14. I'm looking forward to reading Tara's book - on my list! I love the concept.

    I'm intrigued by House of Leaves but I think it would work my last nerve to have to turn the book upside down, etc. I'm not very patient with that kind of thing.

    Enjoy your weekend!

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  15. Can't wait to see The World's End. We almost did, but darn life got in the way. Again, I'm putting my petition up to the universe for a time stopper.

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    1. There is definitely some dark stuff in it.

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  17. I have Pop Travel on my list, I must start soon!

    Yay for some family and movie time, enjoy your weekend ;)

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  18. Lots of nice things to celebrate this week. Spending time with family is always fun and so is reading a good book! Happy weekend.

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  19. That does sound very weird, sort of Blair Witchy.

    I can't wait to see the World's End!

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  20. I'm going to see that movie tonight--can't wait! Enjoy your weekend :)

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  21. You'll never guess what book I'm reading right now! Also, for some reason I'm hungry for pancakes.

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  22. I'm a huge fan of Poe and knew about the connection her "Haunted" album had with this book. I've always been curious about it, but still have never had the opportunity to check it out. *shame on me* One of these days I will, hopefully, if my TBR pile ever shrinks!

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  23. That sounds wild! I like the idea of playing with the word formatting on the page in order to serve the story.

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  24. Your family time sounds wonderful! I'm glad you found a movie you really enjoyed - there have been so many "big" ones recently that were a bit disappointing. I've heard a lot about House of Leaves. It's good you don't think it's a waste of time, although I don't think I want to work that hard to read a book. ;-)

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  25. Sounds like a great weekend, we don't celebrate this weekend, ours was the week before. We had rare sunny days, hope you have a happy family time. Carole.

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  26. Sounds like a great weekend. Tara's Pop Travel is worth a celebration :)

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  27. Interesting book. I'd never heard of it. Maybe I'll have time to read it...someday.

    You've got a good three things to celebrate. I'll probably see The World's End, but not until it appears on TV.

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    1. It took me a while to get through House of Leaves. Normally I'm a very fast reader, but this book slowed me down a lot.

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  28. Spending time with your niece and discussing fairies, ghosts, and blast-ended skrewts while shopping for notebooks and pens sounds like a blast!
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. It really was a blast. She's a terrific kid.

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  29. I can't wait to see The World's End. I've probably missed it at the cinema now but will be checking it out on DVD.

    And I can't wait to get started on Pop Travel, I've heard so many good things about it.

    Hope you had a great weekend!

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  30. Wow! This reminds me of At Swim-Two-Birds which I read in 2012. Here is a bit of my review of that to illustrate:

    "This is one of those books that I was reading and saying "WTF?" to over and over again. I found myself laughing uproariously at unexpected moments, and I never could tell when those moments would occur because I could never tell just what the heck would happen next.

    Basically, the background is this: the book is written by Flann O'Brien which was a pen name for Brian O'Nolan. The book is narrated by a character known simply as "N." who is writing a novel. His main character is Trellis, though he also brings characters from Irish mythology into it (i.e. the much-harrowed Mad Sweeny). Trellis, though, is also an author, and he creates characters that he forces to live with him and do his plotted bidding. Trellis's characters also take over the narrative at one point, including a female character who Trellis falls for and seduces. They have a child who also grows up to be a writer, and...well, you get the idea. Madness ensues."

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  31. I don't think I'm adding it to my list but only because my list is too big and the novelty isn't something that interests me. Maybe if the last book that was kind of "novel" hadn't turned out to be trash I would be more interested.

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  32. That book sounds so interesting.

    I can't wait to see The World's End. I watched Shawn of the Dead again the other day, introducing my son to it, and still cried with laughter!

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