Maturity, one discovers, has everything to do with the acceptance of ‘not knowing.
– Mark Z. Danielewski –
Seeing that my last post about the incredible, thought-provoking book House Of Leaves had such a positive response, I decided to share another excerpt here. This remarkable passage is about a moment in the main character’s journey where he must burn a book down to its very last page in order to finish reading it. This is so beautiful and dramatic to me, that no matter how many times I read it, I seem to learn something new and get in touch with odd feelings of emotion and wonder that are practically indescribable. For this reason, I feel compelled to share this part of the HOL with you, my wonderful readers.
What would you do and how would you feel if you came to the very end of darkness and found yourself with only a few moments of light left?
You’ll be able to enjoy this excerpt in audio form as well. As you listen and read, try to put yourself in the same place as the character and imagine how you would react in this type of fantastical situation…
Excerpt from House Of Leaves, page 467:
Narration by Charles DuFont:
As Navidson reports, he soon begins falling behind. Perhaps his reading slows or the paper burns unevenly or he has bungled the lighting of the next page. Or maybe the words in the book have been arranged in such a way as to make them practically impossible to read. Whatever the reason, Navidson is forced to light the cover of the book as well as the spine. He tries to read faster, inevitably loses some of the text, frequently burns his fingers.
In the end Navidson is left with one page and one match. For a long time he waits in darkness and cold, postponing this final bit of illumination. At last though, he grips the match by the neck and after locating the friction strip sparks to life a final ball of light.
First, he reads a few lines by match light and then as the heat bites his fingertips he applies the flame to the page. Here then is one end: a final act of reading, a final act of consumption. And as the fire rapidly devours the paper, Navidson’s eyes frantically sweep down over the text, keeping just ahead of the necessary immolation, until as he reaches the last few words, flames lick around his hands, ash peels off into the surrounding emptiness, and then as the fire retreats, dimming, its light suddenly spent, the book is gone leaving nothing behind but invisible traces already dismantled in the dark…
Some randomly selected pages of the House: