House of Leaves

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…

Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J Watson.. let me just say.. this book raped my mind.. in a good way.

This book is based (mostly) on journal entries from the protagonist, Christine, who had severe head trauma and memory loss. She would wake up with no recollection of the days that proceeded the one she was waking up to.
The plot of the story was nothing new.. but in this type of story, execution is key. Watson did a wonderful job with the format of the story.

Christine wakes up every morning next to a man that she believes she has never met before in her life. Every morning she has to be told what she has done with her life and what she enjoys. She has to trust the man that she wakes up with. His name is Ben, and he is her husband. When she walks into the bathroom every morning she sees pictures that are taped up on the mirror. They are mostly of her and Ben. When she looks at the photographs she can recognize that it is, in fact, her in those photos. But then she has only one question: how did she become this way?
She is approached by a doctor that gives her the hope that, with his help, she could possibly get some of her memory back. She does not tell Ben about this doctor since she has had many failed attempts at mental physical therapy. Every morning her doctor calls her to tell her about the journal that she been writing in and where she is hiding it. Every morning Christine reads her journal and slowly starts to remember things from her past; both long ago and just yesterday.
When Christine begins getting these memories she then realizes that she has many more unanswered questions. She wants to know how she REALLY got to be injured and what happened in the twenty years since the ‘accident’. She starts looking to speak to the people from her past in order to get the answers that she is so desperate for.
Christine’s sanity and identity are assaulted every time she wakes up but something is horribly wrong beyond her amnesia and how it has wrecked her life. How Christine manages to uncover the devastating and shocking truth despite her inability to rely on her own recollection is a marvel of storytelling. Before I Go to Sleep is not a perfect, airtight book – it has some logical holes – but I never saw what was coming; I am not joking, my mind felt like it was raped!

I won’t ruin the end of this story in case there are some people out there who want to indulge. It almost becomes predictable towards the end of the book.. but it is still definitely worth picking up.