House of Leaves

Questions about House of Leaves and the book as material object:

Here are a few questions I thought about with students today in my course on the haptic interface:

1.  What do we see on the cover of this book?  What details seem particularly interesting?  What does the cover of House of Leaves suggest about the story?  What expectations does it raise?  Now, open the cover and consider the flap and image on the first page.  What expectations do these raise about the text that follows?

2.  Look at the various pages prior to the introduction.  What information can we glean from the contents or design of these pages?  These pages are included in the roman numeral page-numbering that continues through the introduction.   What does this suggest?

3.  In the introduction, Johnny Truant/Danielewski writes about the capacities of the book itself, “I felt certain its resolute blackness was capable of anything, maybe even of slashing out, tearing up the floor, murdering Zampano, murdering us, maybe even murdering we” (xvii).  What do we make of this?  Are books capable of what he describes here?  Is this book capable of what he describes here?

4.  Look carefully at the two first sentences of the book, the first sentence of the introduction and the first sentence of chapter one.  If we were to think of the novel as a sort of mystery yet to unfold, what clues do we get here?  Consider each word carefully.  How much do we learn about the novel (and, perhaps, about its characters or the author) from these first sentences?

5.  Now look closely at the last pages of the book.  What do we find on them?  What do they suggest about the kind of book this is?  Are we meant to look at these pages last?  How do we know?

Here are links to some student blogs that touch on these subjects:
Interactive Interfaces by Paul B.
I Am a Writing Machine by Brandon C.
empyrean411 by Omar G.
The iNTELLECTUALLY iNTERACTIVE Phenomenon by Jessica B.

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