House of Leaves

Thinking of puzzles I remembered I bought this book which could be helpful for inspiration.

House of Leaves was created by Mark Z Danielewski. The story shows the protagonist; a tattooist picking finding a notebook in a dead man’s apartment. This book is filled with annotated text which describes the finding of a house and the strange happenings.

However the annotated book and the story are the same book, I haven’t got very far in it as i’m trying to figure it out slowly. When type changes you know it’s a different writer, when you see citations you know at the bottom you are going to see new information. It can be quite a heavy book for some however personally i think it’s one of the smartest books written which is able to make you become a part of the story. (It’s book inception)

The way the book is formed into little codes and puzzles as the findings of the house become more manic for myself is interesting to see. These little pieces of text could an interesting format to play with when looking at content for the origins book we had created. As the text is a puzzle in itself; if we were to recreate this we would need to put a lot of thought into the content of the book which to be honest i wouldn’t know how much time we have.

Example of manipulated text and references
Example of coded text
Example minimalist format

Looking into the art of this book and the thought process i was able to find  a piece of text from the author which explains the books unique style and the use of type.

What was the idea behind your unusual use of typography? 

I would say that most of the typographical setting is influenced by film. That had been the design from the very beginning: to use the image of text itself in a way that had been studied very carefully for a hundred years by exquisite film-makers and to increase the reader’s experience as they progress through the book.

“When I first began writing the book 10 years ago, I wrote a series of essays for myself on how cinematic grammar could be applied to text. One of the things that I’ve also noticed – thanks to my father who was a film-maker – was how film has a type of grammar that intensifies the viewers’ experiences. A very simple example is in an action movie. Before an action sequence, a director tends to present the audience with long shots and static views so the eye is fixed on a certain focal point on the screen and doesn’t move. When the action sequence actually comes in, a lot of short cuts are used and it intensifies the viewers’ experience by shifting the focal point all over the screen. The eye is moving all around and there’s an actual visceral response to that.”

“So I began to theorise how one could adopt the same techniques textually. So, for example, in chapter nine, The Labyrinth Chapter, the density of the text intentionally slows the reader down, reorients the reader, redresses that question of direction inside the book. However, the next chapter, The Rescue Chapter, only has a few sentences per page so the reader will move through a hundred pages a lot quicker.”

Taken from The Guardian

When reading it makes so much sense for myself why the book is compelling for myself. It reminds me on typography and content is important, if it wasn’t for the format MZD had implemented the book wouldn’t have been successful.


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