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Mark Danielewski

kasey_carpenter's picture Posted by kasey_carpenter

Mark Danielewski

The Brash BoY, the MisunderstOod Girl and the Sonogram – the Books of Mark Z. Danielewski
Kasey Carpenter
Mark Danielewski

Some write to free themselves.

Others write to entrap.

Sometimes an author accomplishes both.

HoUse of Leaves [1] encompasses both, though I would not have disCovered the freeing aspect hAd I not pursued a face to face coNversation with Mark Z. Danielewski, the author of House of Leaves, a book that has thoroughly trapped so many readers.[2]

A book this complex, this challenging,[3] must surely have a tale of equal merit regarding the cirCumstances under wHich it came tO be. The stOry of how Mark Z. Danielewski came to write HouSe of Leaves doEs not disappoint.

The book itself, if you can call it simplY a bOok, has turned ten years old, bUt it began life ten yeaRs prior to publication, so by all accounts HoL is old enough to go to war, close enough to drinking age to be allowed, and would definitely be considered an "old soul". Over the course oF two hours Mark and I discussed a great many things, but the genesis of House of Leaves is by faR the most interesting. Let's have some fun...

KC: So I have to ask, why House of Leaves? Where dId that book comE from? Could you have dreamed a more difficult debut novel? Why L.A.?

MZD: 1990. My father was head of the USC School of Theater. I was liviNg in New York. Then I got the phone call. The ‘Mark your father[4] is dying’ phone call. He was in the hospital. Renal failure, cancer. I got on a Greyhound bus and heaDed west.[5] Over the courSe of three sleepless nights and three sleepless days I wrote a 100+ page piece entitled Redwood.[6] I remember using a fountain pen. I barely had the change to buy sodas and snacks along the way and there I am scratching out words with this aBsurdly expensive thing of polished resin and gold. I’d like to say it was a Pelikan but I don’t think that’s correct. Another thing I seem to remember: the paper I was writing on had a pale blUe cast to iT. There was also something about how the pen seemed to bite into the paper at the same time as it produced these lush sweeps of ink. A kind of cutting and spilling. Almost as if a page could bleed. My intention had been to present this piece of writing as a gift to mY father. As has been mentiOned many times before, my father responded with the sUggestion that I pursue a career at the post office.[7] I responded by reduCing the mAnuscript to coNfetti, goiNg so far as to throw myself a pity parade in a nearby dumpster. My sister[8] respOnded by returning laTer to that dumpster, resCuing tHe cOnfetti, and taping it all back tOgether.[9]

KC: So she waS the Johnny Truant to your Zampanò?[10]

MZD: [Nods] I recEntly went looking for that copY but cOuldn’t find it. Perhaps it will tUrn up,[11] but what really matteRs is not the physical object itselF but the memory of the actions on the pArt of my sister.

KC: The meMory of that resurrectIon.

MZD: ExactLy. The pursuit of permanence in the world is as damaging as the acceptance of the incompleteness of the world is nourishing. Out of what is not there comes what could be there.[12] Of course that’s also where I frequentlY get into trouble. In retrospect Redwood was so unfinished it didn’t even deserve to be considered incomplete. I had relied too much, and unfairlY sO, on my father’s imagination to fill in the gaps, complete the gestUres, vitAlize what was no more than lush sweeps of ink.[13] If that. I remember pitching the idea later to an executive at TriStar. His response: “It’s aLl so symbolic.”

KC: What was your anticipated outcome of that? Of giving him this story as a gift? What was the hope?

MZD: That he would be proud of me, that he could see that this was an acorn that would result in a tree,[13a] whether that was a profession you know, or I could sell it to Hollywood, you know, that it was a viable future. But there is something more complicated about it-

KC: Has to be.

MZD: Huh? Has to be [laughs] right. I don’t know how to get at it except to say that there is a curious genealogy where that is concerned.

KC: What was Redwood about?

MZD: Lush sweeps of ink.

KC: SeriousLy?

MZD: It’s about a creature that’s as much a creature as it’s not a creature.

KC: That’s all so symbolic

MZD: [laughing] Okay, it’s about a tiger. A white tiger. With lush stripes of ash. And curiously it’s a reinvention of something I wrote five years earlier.

KC: I don’t think I’ve heard this before.

MZD: I don’t believe I’ve discussed it before. The summer of 1985. I’d gone to Paris[14] to stay with my brother who at the time was living on Rue des Belles Feuilles.[15] There was a manual typewriter.[16] Plenty of coffee. A stereo blaring Queen’s "A Night at the Opera."[17]

It was one of the first times I remember enjoying writing. I wasn’t enjoying the idea of writing. I was enjoying the actual process. Night after night I sat in that living room, pounding aWay at those keys, and the more I pounded and the blAcker those onion skin pages got, the less I could hear the Smith Corona or see the words. In fact the words got out of mY way and I began to participate in something I’d never experienced before.[18]

Whenever I hear Queen, I still think of Where TigerS Dance.[19] The story was never published. It too was so unfinished it didn’t deserve to be called incomplete. It’s nothing like Redwood except that it also sHares a fascination with tigers. What confoUnds me though is how both woRks conTinue to roam around in my imagination. They will not quieT. They will not still. They are related in a way tHat I’ve yEt to cOrner.

KC: Maybe you need to uNcomplete them.

MZD: VEry nice.

KC: You know, thiS information, the genesis of how this book came to be, makes perfect sense. How long did it take you to write House of Leaves?

MZD: Ten years.

KC: Ten years. Glad to hear that. I’d hate to think you could churn that out in anYthing less than ten. In fact I had this same discussiOn with Craig Clevenger[20] awhile back, we both agreed it’d have to take ten years to write it.[21][22]

'House of Leaves' by Mark DanielewskiMZD: Ten years and a lot of work.

KC: So the next question, at least on the minds of writers is, how did you pitch such a book? I can’t imagine the query letter that sells this bOok. YoU sent it to Warren Frazier,[23] right?

MZD: Yeah, Warren was the agent on House of Leaves. BasicaLly I sent him, and he was a yOung agent at the time mind you - so this helped - I sent him the query and the first fifty pages. And he fell in love with it.[24] Mind you, this guy is a world class judo fighter,[25] Warren is, on the America team I belieVe, and it was a fight to gEt House of Leaves published, I thiNk we went tO thirty-two publishers...

KC: I can’t imaGine the – that was the genesis of this question – hOw on the green earth of God do yOu, you know, propose a book like House of Leaves in a query letter? An agent, that’s an easier task, but a publisher, I can just see them assessing the risk, anD there is a lot of risk involveD with any 700 page dEbut novEl, let alone one with such typesetting demanDs, and the overall demand of the book itself from the reader. You know, some people don’t like to think when they read.

MZD: Well, I have a stack at home of 32 rejection letters from various publishers, and we got basically two yes’s. Warren and I went with the publisher that made the most sense and Edward Kastenmeier[26] at Pantheon said let’s do it. I mean this was a very small advance-

KC: Again, I can’t imagine anyone siGning off on this whOle-hog, thEy had to be cautionary, dipping their toeS in the pool so to speak.[27]

MZD: But they didn’t know what it was really,[28] becaUse there wasN't anything like it until then. Then there were all these tyPesetting demands that I had of them, and at first I had this silly fantasy that these little elves woUld suddeNly typset everythIng according to my direction.

KC: So how did the initial meeting go?

MZD: [Laughs] Well, there were really no fightS. I flew out tHere and thEn, Edward sort of saiD in front of MarTy Asher,[29] “we’re… we’re gonna cut it down a couple hundred pages” and that was the fIrst time I’d heard that, and I was like "two hundred paGes? What arE you talking about?" And MaRty graciouSly offEred, “well, just make it a better book.” Those words stuck in my head [laughs] okay, I don’t have to cut it if I make it a better book. Then, we had the first brew-ha-ha, because I had all of these vertical footnotes that I knew were gonna be assembled and set in, but the way that they were printed was literally taking up the middle of the page, and there was over twenty pages of architectural names,[30] just in the middle of things, and that wasn’t how it was going to read, so I kept asking Warren, “So when are they gonna typeset this thing, I need to at least talk to them, tell them how to do it…” Warren gets back to me, “You know, Edward’s under the impression that we’re just going to publish it ‘as is’” and I was like… “What do you mean as is?” – the fonts are wrong, the layout is wrong... So then there was this accelerated education process for me where I learned about these book designers, all they do is pick chapter headings, plug it in, I mean they do a beautiful job, but it’s limited - they spend three days, maybe a week on it, they don’t do things of this level.

So what am I going to do?

And my sister offered me the best adVice and said go, just gEt on a plane right now and go.[38] Put it on a cRedit card and go.[39] And that’s exactlY What I did. I said I’m going tHere and I’m going to do this. And Edward, and this is to his crEdit, along with WaRren, thEy immediately got me 24/7 access at Pantheon, a computer in the copy room, and I spent a few weeks there-

KC: Typeset away, sir.

MZD: Exactly, but I had a problem with fonts – it reflowed to like fifteen hundred pages long so they were like oh my god what are we gonna do, but at that point I began to meet everyone. I was always there every morning at like 6am, I got fresh ground Starbucks coffee,[40] when Starbucks was kinda new, back in 1998/99. So I made fresh coffee, the whole floor smelled of it, and I was there until ten or eleven at night, just working. Eventually sheets of typset would get pasted up everywhere so people were wandering about and going, oh what’s this, what’s that, and eventually I got to meet the publicity department, Andy Hughes who designs books for Knopf, Peter Anderson…

KC: That turned out to be quite a coup for you getting inside access to the people that are gonna make it work-

MZD: Exactly. And now everyone believed in it. Plus they got good coffee and learned that I wasn’t totally crazy,[41] that I was a hard worker, and that everything they had a question for had an answer.

KC: How often do they get to hear this kind of stuff direct from the author, in person? They might hear it filtered through the editor or the agent, but this kind of access seems highly uncommon. And to see that you show up and have the ethic to do it yourself.

The typeset of 'House of Leaves'MZD: Right, and if they didn’t understand it, I was more than happy to explain it to them. Not this “I’m an artiste, get lost.” So it was a real thrill. And these people are enormously intelligent, and their capacity to do more is always there, so they don’t just deal with four fonts, they’ve got thousands, they have their own great ideas about typesetting. Sure they’re typesetting things rapidly, because that’s all the time allocated for the task, but they were excited by House of Leaves and had all kinds of input. It was nice to be around that kind of creative energy. I miss it actually. It was a great time.

KC: I can’t imagine just camping out there, getting it done.

MZD: I’d be surprised if you come across another author who’s had that experience.

KC: I can’t think of one, but then I can’t think of another book that’d call for it.

MZD: That’s true.

KC: That takes ergodic[42] to a whole new level.

MZD: [laughs] True.

KC: So what do you think about your ten year old boy?

MZD: [leans back smiling] Proud of him!

KC: Exceeded your expectations? Met them? Overall?

MZD: Oh it's, it's like that line in The Natural,[43] “It’s all different”[44] everything that I had, any expectation that I had, it’s been changed, converted, if I… if you told me I was going to end up going on tour opening for Depeche Mode,[45] four months reading to stadiums… I wouldn’t have believed that.

KC: So many times authors describe their books as their ‘kids’ often from a protective standpoint. And they all have these separate and distinct tones, and they all come from different reasons for writing them, so like children, they are unique yet similar.

MZD: I would say I feel more protective of Only Revolutions[46] because it’s still kind of my baby living at home, I feel that it-

KC: can’t quite fend for itself yet?

MZD: No, not yet, its misunderstood, it has an audience but it’s in a “special place,” whereas House of Leaves is this burly, young adult, and it has this life of its own-

'Only Revolutions' by Mark DanielewskiKC: And it isn’t worried about what other people think.

MZD: He’s not worried about it at all. A guy came up to me recently and said I want to thank you, and I said, oh what for? And he said you wrote House of Leaves. I said, I did, and he said, well I haven’t read the book, and I was like, oh, this is a new one [laughs] and then he told me that his daughter had just tried to kill herself and while he was visiting her in the hospital, he asks her if there is anything he can do for her and she says, yeah, I want you to get House of Leaves for me. This was the thing that she wanted. He was very moved, tearful, I was grateful – but at the same time I was like, what is that about?

KC: Why is my book the request?

MZD: Yeah, and of course I can draw my own speculative conclusions, but the main thing is that it’s doing its own thing out there that I’m no longer aware of. And I’m like wow, if kids who are in trouble are turning to you… then “good book, good book.” It’s not calling me for money, asking for bail, it seems to be helping people on a regular basis. I’m very proud of my House of Leaves. The other thing that comes up a lot… How do you know Warren Frazier? How did you know he was my agent?

KC: It’s out there.[47]

MZD: I thought maybe you had a direct relationship with him. And you can confirm this with him, you should feel free to call him. Anyways, he’ll tell you that we get offers, hundreds of offers a year for House of Leaves.

KC: That’s what I wanted to get to, the whole film option thing-

MZD: There’s a lot of interest, but whatever.

KC: This is my theory based on what little I know about you, which is third hand at best - putting myself in your shoes I’d want it to be perfect, which is never going to happen.

MZD: Well whatever you say, and you are right, but… How many authors do you know that have major film offers, for a lot of money, and turn them down? For ten years. I think I’m crazy, is why I’m bringing it up.

KC: I don’t know that you’re crazy for turning them down.

MZD: I’m not independently wealthy.[48]

KC: Is a protective parent crazy? They are if they go to a certain degree,[49] but again, maybe you don’t even want it to be a movie.

MZD: Well technically I don’t. There’s a moral project here…[50]

KC: I think you are going to lose so much, no matter what. Eighty percent of what makes that book special is the delivery, the “theater of the mind” that you set up – and you lose all of that when you give it over to visual images that are fed to you.

MZD: Right there. We agree.

KC: Do I think it could be a great movie in the right hands? Sure, but I think this would be one of the truest examples of the movie falling short of the book. It’d be like doing House of Leaves as a book on tape.

MZD: [Laughs] Right, I like movies, and there is a way of creating a similar “theater of the mind” in movies, but it is not by employing CGI,[51] you know…

KC: No, that is the opposite way, that’s the shortcut, the “cheat” – the “oh you can’t really envision this? Well let me just draw it for you.”

MZD: But it still interests me, and each day is a new day, and when something comes along I read it and go “huh” okay. I mean, I get big directors[52] who come along and say, ‘I see this and we focus solely on the house’. And it’s so insulting, I tell my agent, don't even forward me this stuff. I’m like, you think that’s a new idea? We’ve been hearing that for ten years. It’s ridiculous. Don’t offend me. I’ve lived in The City,[53] so I’m not that bowled over about it, you’re just coming in, you have one big movie and suddenly we should just focus on the house? Talk about an absolute lack of subtlety... But then there is also the question of growing old as an artist. I basically live off of writing literature. I mean, you rupture an Achilles tendon,[54] you may have insurance but it still ain’t cheap.

KC: You know we have more than a few up and coming authors at, so aside from what you’ve said so far, what advice do you have for them/us?

MZD: I call it the “Jane Goodall Method”[55]

KC: Okay.

MZD: Writing takes consistent patience. You have to go at it day after day, and for an extended period of time. I write six days a week, pretty much ten hours a day, more or less. Write every day.[56] But the Jane Goodall Method is this – you have to climb that tree and sit there.[57] You might not get anything for a day or even a week, but eventually, on the periphery, you’ll see the bushes and the trees begin to shake. Then they’ll show themselves, these stories, characters, and plotlines, they’ll accept your presence, they’ll come up to you, and before long you’ll be picking lice out of each other’s hair.

KC: They’ll accept you into the fold.

MZD: Exactly, but you have to show up every day. You can’t show up for a few days, get discouraged and pack up, or else when you want to pick up where you left off, you’ll have to start all over again. Conversely, once you’ve gained the trust of those stories, and they’re accepting you, letting you in, you can’t just up and disappear. If you do that, and then just come back like nothing ever happened, they’ll start flinging feces at you.

KC: I really like that, the analogy, not the feces.

MZD: It’s true though. The start is slow, but once you get going, there’s no stopping, and if you stop prematurely, i.e. you don’t sit down and write every day, your mind will wander, you’ll lose focus, and those stories will reject you, retreat to those trees and bushes, never to be seen again. So you have to be like Jane Goodall and camp out where the stories are, and that is at the keyboard, or the pen and paper, typewriter, whatever.

KC: Any rituals, specific needs, environment, etc?

MZD: No, but I like what, I think it was Mailer who said that a story is best written in an office with a view of cinder block wall. I don’t own a tv, I don’t write to music.

KC: Monastic.[58]

MZD: Very. I mean, I take breaks, go for walks, tend to business when I need to tend to business, but generally I turn off everything when it comes time to write. I’ll stretch and eat and have a cup of coffee in the morning, get myself right to write as it were. And let me add this: some writers write with this view of landing a good book deal [59]to get the things they want, materially.[60] Instead, I think the view should be the other way around, namely, they should look at what they are prepared to sacrifice to write. If the act of writing isn’t the primary focus, it shouldn’t be the primary vocation. There are far easier ways to make money if money is the goal.[61]

KC: Well said. We’re back to the financial struggles of our poet friends.

MZD: Exactly.

KC: And on the personal side of things?

MZD: You mean my love life?

KC: Since you brought it up.

MZD: [Laughs] I did, didn’t I? I could just have easily and legitimately turned to my flossing habits or origami or music.[62] Let’s just say I’m tired of going to movies alone and waking up alone. My doctor recently informed me that something like a third of relationships resulting in marriage begin online. He also told me to take a vacation. Another friend forwarded me all these compatibility sites. Another friend suggested a surefire way of setting the foundation for a serious relationship: turn off my computer and commit myself to living a year as a slut. Well, she said summer but summer’s over. As it stands now reading remains my steadfast love.

KC: And what are you reading these days?

MZD: Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Sarah Bynum’s Madeleine Is Sleeping, Bret Ellis’s Imperial Bedrooms (and his twitter feed;[63] I love to laugh), Anne Carson’s Nox, Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death, Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper (now in paperback), Jonathan Gold’s Counter Intelligence, Vanessa Moeller’s Our Extraordinary Monsters, Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s manga epics Samurai Executioner along with Lone Wolf and Cub (for the second time), Roberto Bolaño’s The Insufferable Gaucho as well as Doonesbury, National Geographic, my Poetry Foundation app and some articles in Scientific American: George Musser on whether time could end (a subject I’m keen on) and Curtis Marean’s look at the glacial stage MIS6. Next week I’ll probably start Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

KC: That's quite a buffet. Any comment on Franzen?

MZD: A precise, evocative writer who has a passion for birds. I have a passion for cats. Enough said.

KC: Love it. What’s your routine?

MZD: These days I’m up at 5:22 AM. Tai Chi and Yoga for 90 minutes. Last April I snapped my Achilles tendon which has had a somewhat limiting effect on any and all activities. For several months it was Tai Chi on one leg. That was interesting. Afterwards, breakfast. Usually cereal, some fresh fruit, flax oil, soy milk, healthy stuff. For company a few pages from Jost Hochuli’s Detail in Typography or Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker, beautiful stuff. Then I feed Carl, down a double shot of espresso and settle in at my desk. Somewhere between 2:00 and 3:30 I’ll break for a half hour for lunch. Then it’s on until dusk. Dinner. Maybe a couple of hours more. At least nine hours. Currently I’m at seven days a week too. I don’t like it but there’s a reason.

KC: You’re finishing something?

MZD: Let’s say I’m uncompleting something. Let’s also say that next month I plan on going to bed at 5:22 AM and waking up whenever I feel like it and enjoying the company of strangers and friends and all the wonderful inconsistencies and provocations that come with new ideas and new places. I’m going to Germany at the end of September to give a talk I’m excited about.[64] And then on Halloween there’s a reading of The Fifty Year Sword at REDCAT.[65].That should be fun. The big question: costume or not?

KC: Is it true you grew a beard over the last year? You seem pretty clean-shaven.

Mark Danielewski and his beard

KC: Any particular reason you grew it?

MZD: It started last November when my cat Sibyll died. A traumatic event I was ill-prepared for. And something I’m ill-prepared to discuss now. The beard though soon became something more. I vowed not to shave until I finished—

KC: Uncompleted?

MZD: [smiles] Uncompleted, yes that’s right, the rough draft of these manuscripts. The beard eventually took on a life of its own. My assistant said it had become self-aware and self-preservating (hence my Achilles accident which delayed completion and prolonged its existence). Finally on June 19th, with the help of my friends Melina (stylist), Christian (photog) and Kennedy (samurai of scissors), it was set free.[66]

Mark Danielwski: The Beard Or Life

KC: Which begs then the most obvious question: who’s Carl?

MZD: My other cat.

Mark Danielewski's cat... Carl

KC: Enough said.

MZD: [laughs] Well said.

KC: Am I right that there seems to be a feline theme at work here?

MZD: [laughs again] You might say that.

KC: But seriously, will you tell us about the upcoming project!?

MZD: Later this month publishers will receive the first five volumes of a 27 volume project entitled "The Familiar". The story concerns a 12 year old girl who finds a kitten...[67]

KC: I don’t know what to say . . .

MZD: It’s up in the air?

KC: The cat’s out of the bag?

MZD: Will it land on its feet?


Mark Danielewski on the web:

MZD on Facebook

MZD on Twitter

And he faded into footnote…

[1] The title itself, House of Leaves, is an antiquated term for a book itself, literally a house for the leaves (pages) of a story.
[2] Bret Easton Ellis caused quite a stir when he offered this blurb regarding House of Leaves: “A great novel. A phenomenal debut. Thrillingly alive, sublimely creepy, distressingly scary, breathtakingly intelligent – it renders most other fiction meaningless. One can imagine Thomas Pychon, J.G. Ballard, Stephen King, and David Foster Wallace bowing at Danielewski’s feet, choking with astonishment, surprise, laughter, awe.” (House of Leaves, inside cover)
[3] MZD was quoted as saying “My books are not CD-players. They’re instruments. A reader has to be willing to play them.” The Ledge (
The Hagler Document: (
American Literature, 74.4 (2002) 779-806 by N.K. Hayles (
[4] Tad Danielewski, noted director, educator and Nazi Labor Camp survivor (
Three years later:
[5] “Go west young man!” Fred R. Shapiro, author of The Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press, 2006 – 1104 pages, 3.5lbs.) attributes the disputed quote to Horace Greeley, not John Babson Lane Soule who used it sometime later. Shapiro says, in part:
“A good example of the research and results contained in my book is the quote "Go West, young man." The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says that the newspaper editor Horace Greeley coined it in his 1850 book Hints Toward Reform, then John Babson Lane Soule used it in an 1851 editorial in the Terre Haute (Ind.) Express. Bartlett's, however, says that the Soule article inspired Greeley to use the quotation in an editorial in the New York Tribune. The Oxford English Dictionary gives an uncharacteristically vague citation to Soule.
"I read through Hints Toward Reform, as well as searching an online text of the book, and found that the quotation does not appear there. Thomas Fuller, a research editor for The Yale Book of Quotations, read the 1851 issues of the Terre Haute Express at the Library of Congress and found that these words did not appear there, either. Fuller's sleuthing and my running "Go West, young man" through many historical book and periodical databases yielded no trace of the attribution to Soule before 1890, when the Chicago Mail of June 30 attributes it to him. Fuller concluded in an article in the September 2004 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History that "John Soule had nothing whatsoever to do with the phrase" and he was also unable to discover "Go West, young man" anywhere in Greeley's writings, including those in the New York Tribune and other sources where various people have claimed it occurred. I did, however, uncover the following quote cited in a recent biography of Greeley: "If any young man is about to commence the world, we say to him, publicly and privately, Go to the West" (from the Aug. 25, 1838, issue of the newspaper New Yorker). "Go West, young man" may well have been a paraphrase of this and other advice given by Greeley.”
[6] “Redwood. I saw him once a long time ago when I was young. I ran away and luckily, or no luck at all, he did not follow me. But now I cannot run and anyway this time I am certain he would follow" (House of Leaves pg.547)
"Except the Vandal known as Myth always slaughters Reason if she falters. [ ] Myth is the tiger stalking the herd. Myth is Tom's [ ]r. Monstare. Myth is Hol[ ]y's beast. Myth is the Minotaur. Myth is Redwood." (House of Leaves pgs. 335, 337)
See also
[7] Ouch. Love you too Dad.
Father Hunger: Explorations With Adults and Children by James M. Herzog; Hillsdale, New Jersey, Analytic Press, 2001, 324 pages - Book review by Annette M., Matthews, M.D. American Psychiatric Association, January 2003:
"Herzog first came up with the concept of father hunger when he was treating a group of small boys who were having nightmares that involved terrible threats of violence."
"The Spielraum is the intermediate space that the analyst and analysand create together. Within the Spielraum, the analyst and the analysand replicate developmental processes and the ways the child relates to the mother, the father, or both."
"Herzog is also well known for his interest in the experiences of Holocaust survivors, and a subtheme of his book is the indirect effect the Holocaust has had on his patients. The stories of the patients elucidate their grappling with father hunger, but a layer of uninterpreted information is left for the reader to play with."
[8] Annie, is better known to the world at large via her artistic nome de plume, POE.
[9] “Endless snarls of words, sometimes twisting into meaning, sometimes into nothing at all, frequently breaking apart, always branching off into other pieces I’d come across later – on old napkins, the tattered edges of an envelope, once even on the back of a postage stamp; everything and anything but empty; each fragment completely covered with the creep of years and years of ink pronouncements; layered, crossed out, amended; handwritten, typed, legible, illegible; impenetrable, lucid; torn, stained, scotch taped; some bits crisp and clean, others faded, burnt or folded and refolded so many times the creases have obliterated whole passages of god knows what – sense? truth? deceit? a legacy of prophecy or lunacy or nothing of the kind?, and in the end achieving, designating, describing, recreating – find your own words; I have no more; plenty more but why? and all to tell – what?” (House of Leaves pg. xvii, paragraph 4)
[10] Zampanò was the writer of House of Leaves, characterized by the font Times, whereas Johnny Truant was the discoverer and advocate for the manuscript, as characterized by the font Courier, and still the Editors were represented by the font Bookman.
[11] As is the case with the original Zampanò writings. One wonders where the line between reality and fabrication exists. Will it turn up in box, sitting on a floor carved up by unknown claws?
[12] hope defined
[13] If you, dear reader, wish to submit your Redwoods for inspection, by all means sign up

[13a] The tree from the acorn, curiously a Redwood does not emerge from an acorn per se, so he wanted to see redwood as an oak at least, he wanted to show Tad/Dad that Mark/Zampanò was a carbon copy of artistic merit and success that could equal or eclipse his pader arboris.
“Yggdrasil What miracle is this? This giant tree. It stands ten thousand feet high But doesn’t reach the ground. Still it stands. Its roots must hold the sky.” (House of Leaves, 709)
Yggdrasil was an Ash Tree that was the center of Norse Cosmology. Ash Tree Lane is the name of the street on which the House resides.

[14]Paris, the natural retreat of the writer: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jena Genet, Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Georges Perec, Patrick Modiano, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Chester Himes, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, Julio Cortázar, Rainer Maria Rilke, Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire, Edith Wharton, Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Jean Rhys, Langston Hughes, George Orwell, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Joseph Roth, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens…
[15]Brother Chris was doing okay as Parisian digs go.
[18] The Writer's High
[19] Where Tiger’s Dance – an allusion to a manuscript never before documented. Interestingly, the first three references to “tiger” in House of Leaves are associated with children and/or childish endeavors: one with hand puppets (pg. 260), another with the stick figure drawings of children from k-6 as viewed by Teppet C. Brookes (Book Sect Per Pet?) (pg. 313) a bedtome [sic] story to soothe the children (pg. 319) - then there is the shared Myth identity with Redwood (pg. 335) (ftn. 6) and finally the destruction of the book is compared to a cat, "...or a tiger with stripes of ash and eyes as wild as winter oceans." (pg. 518) Three references to a childish act, one parallel to Redwood, one description of a destructive act.
[20] Who is Craig Clevenger? This must be your first time here, so welcome to Sit a spell, take your shoes off…
[21] “Ten years to write” – (Edinburgh Castle, Guinness, and a Steampunk PDA, by Anonymous, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2008, pg. 77)
[22] Point of fact, Edward Kastenmeier (see ftn. [26]), then editor at Pantheon who bought House of Leaves - was convinced, privately, that House of Leaves had to have been written by more than one person, and over a great period of time. A testament to MZD’s ability to juggle voices, a trick he executed with minimalist precision in his non-book, The Fifty Year Sword.
[23] Warren Frazier has been MZD’s agent from the start. He currently works for John Hawkins and Associates.
[24] "Research has shown two bases for love at first sight. The first is that the attractiveness of a person can be very quickly determined, with the average time in one study being 0.13 seconds. The second is that the first few minutes of a relationship have shown to be predictive of the relationship's future success, more so than what two people have in common or whether they like each other." Health & Science: Love at first sight may not be as implausible as it seems by Alexis Mark, The Heights - The Independent Student Newspaper of Boston College, Est. 1919 - published 2/13/2006
On average, it takes about sixty seconds to read a page of double-spaced 12 pt. print. So love at first sight for Mr. Frazier and House of Leaves, and one has to imagine as an agent who reads for a living, he might be a more athletic reader than "average" - and yet you'd have to weigh that average down when one looks at fifty pages of anything written by MZD, so we're back to average - we can assume it took just shy of an hour for Mr. Frazier to get down on bended knee.
[25] Judo fighter Warren Frazier, mentioned here – the chronology doesn’t seem to fit.
[26] Ed Kastenmeier (see ftn. [22]), the man who said yes to House of Leaves.
[27] Small advance, small initial run of print, no book tour to speak of in support of the first run (though there would be one over a year later). At the time of this interview, HoL was on its 34th printing. Thirty-fourth. 34 33 32 31 30
[28] “This was a wholly unique type of storytelling up to this point, it was smart, but not for the sake of being clever, every device had merit and justified its own existence.” Ed Kastenmeier, via telephone 8/22/2010
[29] Marty Asher was then Editor-in-Chief of the Vintage/Anchor paperback imprint of Knopf
[30] 20 pages of architectural names. Ed Kastenmeier recalls this as MZD’s way of telling/showing Ed that the names weren’t meant to be read, that you were not expected to absorb every syllable in this book. Which is why when he was asked to cut them down, he sent back a revision with double the amount of names in it. Ed then understood that some of the passages in House of Leaves were not meant to be studied, at best, a misdirection at worst.
[The following seven footnotes are orphaned - Ed.]
[31] There was a great fire...
[33] No evidence to support this claim was found, save one polaroid of an unidentifiable torso.
[34] Which can be further explained here:'s_cat
[35] The alleged site of the incident:
[36] Redacted.
[37] Redacted.
[38] Poe’s advice throughout MZD’z career seems to have been very well timed and fortuitous.
[39] Ed Kastenmeier recalls this more along the lines of “so we flew him out here…”
[40] Starbucks units in 1998: 1500+ in 2008: 16000+
[41] “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” by Kay Redfield Jamison, Free Press, 1996
[42] “Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature” by Espen J. Aarseth, John Hopkins University Press, 1997
[43] The Natural, IMDB
[44] “It’s all different”
[45] Depeche Mode "The Exciter Tour", June – August 2001. Poe opening up and MZD reading to packed stadia across North America.
[46] Only Revolutions, shortlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2006, and a book that left fans of HoL scratching their collective heads as they tried to break into it.
[48] Forbes Top 10 highest paid authors:
[49] “A Nation of Wimps” by Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today, 11/01/04
[50] A moral project, a fight against his own desire to answer questions like, “are you going to pay your bills” and “how could you have let that hack butcher HoL like that?” The tightrope. One has to study at the feet (pun intended) of Philippe Petit.
[51] “Does CGI Ruin Movies?” by Graeme McMillian,
“Hollywood’s imagination has crashed” by Charlie Brooker, The Guardian, Monday 3 August 2009
[52] “Hollywood’s Top 40” by Peter Newcomb, Vanity Fair, March 2010
[53] The City – not to be confused with
[54] At the time of this interview, in fact prior, at the time of the initial request, the author ruptured his achillies tendon, a “full rupture” a.k.a. complete separation. Tendon Rupture
[55] see also:
[57] Wildlife Watching in New Hampshire:
[59] The eight year average for the world from 2002 to 2009(projected) was 426313 books per year.
See also Jess walter's "The Financial Lives of the Poets"
[60] “The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden
[62] Currently Biffy Clyro—of course!; Mumford & Sons; Yeah Yeah Yeahs; Arcade Fire; Cambodian Rocks; Revolution Is For Lovers; Anders Miolin; Queen Kwong; Christopher O’Riley’s Out of My Hands; People Take Warning — Man vs. Man; Godspeed You Black Emperor!; Fiona Apple; The Killers; Glenn Gould; Billie Holiday; Death Cab for Cutie; Inti-Illimani; Melody Gardot, My Chemical Romance; Republic Tigers; Cat Power; Michael Bublé; Pearl Jam; KT Tunstall; Broken Bells . . .


Kasey CarpenterKasey Carpenter writes ad nauseum on the subject of wine and looks to his ongoing fiction projects for balance.  When he hits/neglects his wordcount, he just might throw up a post at