Meeting Mark Z. Danielewski

My friend called House of Leaves “a winter book.” I was in college when my friend, Andrew, introduced me to Mark Z. Danielewski’s first novel. The labyrinthine novel is about a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside. House of Leaves is a long, dense book with unconventional typography and layout.

House of Leaves

Creative Commons License
House of Leaves by Alan Trotter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

I couldn’t finish House of Leaves the first time I started it. I tried again a year or so later and finally finished it. It was like nothing I had ever read before.

Mark Z. Danielewski (MZD) likes to compare his individual books to specific art forms: House of Leaves is about film, The Fifty Year Sword is about campfire stories, and Only Revolutions is about music.

In 2010, Danielewski organized a stage performance of The Fifty Year Sword at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater). Five actors read their lines while a puppeteer cast shadows on a screen. Around this time, MZD created Atelier Z which is a collective of researchers, artists, and others who work with him.

I was thrilled when I heard Danielewski was writing a series inspired by modern TV shows such as Breaking Bad and The Wire. The Familiar is about a 12-year-old girl and her cat. (MZD loves cats. I love cats too.) Danielewski has acknowledged that sometimes TV shows are cancelled, and I cringe at the thought of The Familiar being cut like Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

I started reading The Familiar, Volume 1 the night before my wedding so for me the series marks the beginning of my married life.

My wife and I met Danielewski at his book signing for The Familiar, Volume 2 in Toledo, Ohio.


Strong T-shirt game

He read pages 77-79 from House of Leaves which I thought was appropriate because it mentions Ohio.

… I am tripping — overcast in tones December gray, recalling names, — I have tripped — swept in Ohio sleet and rain, ruled by a man with a beard rougher than horse hide and hands harder than horn …

It was amazing meeting MZD and hearing him talk about his work. I’m immensely excited for his next book, Honeysuckle & Pain, (isn’t that a great title?).