I’d like to start off by stating that I am the type of person who cannot watch horror movies (even if they are cheesy and poorly developed) because I will have nightmares and I will resent anyone who tries to sit me down to watch one. That being said, I am not the type of person who can turn down the opportunity to read a book that gets rave reviews and an absolutely massive amount of hype, even if it is a horror story. I know, it doesn’t make sense. I’m a girl, being complicated in engraved in my genes.
I was skeptical before I picked up this acclaimed novel by Mark Danielewski, I did not know what to expect. If you happen to be a conservative reader.. um, well.. find something else.
Having taken quite a few psychology classes throughout highschool and college, I find it very hard NOT to psychologically evaluate a book while I am reading it. As you dissect the text, you find the subtext. When you read into the subtext of this novel you seem to walk away with more satisfaction. I’m afraid that’s not something that I can teach someone to do.. So, you’ll probably just be scared and frustrated throughout most of the 700 pages.
This postmodern story starts out with a basic storyline: A family moves into a house which seems to be larger on the inside than on the outside. Then the story unravels and turns into a story within a story (and so on).
There’s a young man named Johnny Truant acting as literary editor, presenting the compelling and disturbing scribblings and ramblings on an old man named Zampano. Zampano’s papers, which are presented posthumously, recount, at times blow-for-blow, a documentary film called “The Navidson Record” of a family moving into a house which proves to be larger on the inside than it is on the outside.
There is also another editor above Johnny, who makes comments on top of Johnny’s comments. Johnny finds himself wondering if the old man didn’t just make up the whole story about the young family moving into the house, because Johnny is unable to find any corroborating scrap of proof that the film exists.
Of course, add into the mix that Johnny is a self-admitted fibber and story teller extroidinaire. He tells us how much fun he has making up completely bogus stories for the benefit of strangers which he meets in bars.
Now you’re in the situation which the reader has to start to wonder if the old man, Zampano, even exists, or if he was simply just an invention made by Johnny. And if you follow that line of thinking too far, you might start to doubt the simple idea of whether you are, in fact, reading the book.
The book twists and turns and unravels so many times over. There is simply no way to give the book justice in words. It is something that should be read and experienced in order to be appreciated. Don’t let the 700 pages scare you away. Maybe there aren’t 700 pages in the book, maybe it’s all part of your imagination…