Danielewiski’s Method of Reading

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewiski uses abstract layouts and abrupt changes in voice to alter how the reader engages in the novel and gathers information. When reading House of Leaves the strange layout and copious amounts of footnotes force readers to struggle to gain pieces of key information. By making it easier to skip sections of vital information with such an unsure and obstructed method of reading within the text. For example, the abrupt stopping midsentence within Johnny and Zampanó’s text makes it hard to read each story chronologically. This brings up the argument, does the method in which you read really matter, and if so how do you gain key information?

In Emily Carroll’s Margot’s Room, the chronological order in which you read the webcomic doesn’t matter; however, there is an overarching order based on clues. These clues can be detected in change in mood, color, and layout on the screen. These changes allow readers to understand the chronology. We can try and string together the events of Johnny’s and Zampanó’s text based on these clues. Without said clues, readers would have no clue how to put together the chronology of the book when basing their reading method solely on Danielewiski laid out.

The footnotes in the House of Leaves, while not as important in other novels, hold a major roles in the novel because of the three clashing voices. A lot of key information is hinted at by the footnotes; for example, the editor tries to clarify Johnny’s footnote “in an effort to limit confusion” and explain the reference to Dante within the text to the reader (Danielewiski, 4). Zampanó’s, Johnny’s, and the editor’s clashing voices all work together to help clarify otherwise non-existent or uncertain information. This essential clarity causes the footnotes to play a vital role in the distribution of information within the text. The vital information stored within the footnotes also alters the audience’s reading method by creating an abrupt or sudden stop in the flow of the story. The method Danielewiski lays out before the reader causes his audience to actively search the text for clues, rather than follow the natural flow of a narrative.

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