House of Leaves Book Club Discussion Questions

Please be aware that our book club discussion questions contain spoilers.

Synopsis

An unreliable narrator with a troubled past finds a pile of documents in an abandoned apartment. They are an incomplete book, written by a blind man, about a documentary the narrator cannot confirm exists. The documentary is about a family which moves into a house that becomes gradually more surreal and menacing, leading to murder. The narrator, Johnny, also documents his early life and his mother’s mental health issues in footnotes. The textual preparation of the book is irregular, to emphasize the emotional impact if the story.

Discussion questions
  • What, fundamentally, is the book about?
  • How reliable is Johnny the unreliable narrator? What actually happens in the story? Does what actually happened matter?
  • Why does Zampano write the Navidson Record? Why does Johnny edit it? Is the version Johnny creates the version the reader reads?
  • Why blue?
  • Which typographical tricks were most effective for you?
  • The book is about assembling a book, which is about editing a film, which is about a recording an event. How do the many layers of implied editing alter the story?
  • How does Pelfina know Zampano? What do they mean to each other?
  • The book was written in parallel with an album called Haunted by Poe (the stage name of the author’s sister). Have you listened to the album? Did it change your opinion on any of these answers?

The Library Service has copies of House of Leaves.