use of page space and lack thereof

In House of Leaves, Danielewski uses various portions of the page for various different functions. Initially this was an entirely online text; I have not seen the online version, so possibly the spacing was similar there as it is in book form, but I cannot be entirely sure.Either way, the text is not displayed in the “usual” left to right all the way across the page, then down a row and back to the left form that one expects from a text in book form.

A few examples of what is going on in this text with page space are as follows. On pages 246 to 252, as well as some other places in the book, the text is placed in two columns on each page. This format looks like a newspaper. In this form, the text is sometimes further broken down into upper text and footnotes, where on some pages such as 246 only the upper text is columnized, whereas on other pages such as 247 both the upper text and footnotes are columnized.

There are pages in the 120’s to 140’s that have boxes inserted within the text, the boxes have blue outlines and some make more sense than others. Pages 122-123 are a fine example of this. On 122 there is a far left column of text with a line to its right, seemingly a large margin; within this text is a list of buildings and artistic/architectural styles that continue on from the prior left page and on into the following left page. None of this is mentioned on the right pages. To the right of this line, yet still on the left page, is the continuation of what seems to be the main story at the time. This continues on to the right page, but only to the left of its own line. Below the main story text (but not any of the other text here) are footnotes, which are kept between the right of the line on the left page and the left of the line on the right page. To the far right of the right page, other side of the line, is a list of names, upside down and italicized. This list continues from the right page after, and on to the right page before, as though one would turn the book upside down and flip the pages in what would now look like the usual way. Furthermore, the blue boxes make an appearance on these pages, in both instances straddling the line. The box on 122 is text typed as though looking through a mirror; it continues in numerical page order but still in mirror text on all left pages in this range. The box on 123 is the same text as the box on 124, just straightened out and unmirrored.

Furthermore, there are pages such as 309, where the only word on the page is white. This is part of a sentence that spans from 307 to 312, and is laid out as such:

307- The film runs out here,

308- leaving nothing else behind but an unremarkable

309- white

310- (nothing but the page number)

311- screen

312- (a giant period.)

There are other spots in the book where text is sparsely typed, and spread out across multiple pages. Another good example of this is page 289, where the text is sparsely spaced, upside down, and patterned to fit what the words are (much like an interpretive dance of words).

The page says Navidson is sinking.. Or the stairway is stretching expanding. The word sinking falls off in lines, as though the word itself were actually sinking. The words stretching and expanding begin fairly tightly typed, yet with further letters comes a larger space between them, as if the words were literally stretching and expanding. Also, stretching is placed vertically along the inside of the page, using the s from is as its starting point and the g from expanding as its end point.

There are many more examples of these types of space play, such as the “17 pages missing” on page 377, and it just shows how when something that works well in one form is forced into another form, the transition is not always there. Then again, it certainly makes for an interesting read, if you are looking to expect the unexpected.

Jason Glasser

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~ by diamondace on March 15, 2010.

 
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