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Monday, 14 February 2011

House of Leaves - The Navidson Record - Part XIII

As you could probably tell from my last post, I wasn't particularly happy with where it ended. Mainly because I couldn't think how Navidson was going to get out of there in a generally alive piece.
Well, the first thing on the first page is the title The Minotaur. Followed by a quotation that translates to something about a creature that cannot be named. This is sounding just a little bit familiar. Please let the monster thingy eat Holloway.
So the actual narrative starts with Chad's teacher asking her class to draw a picture of their house; fair enough, keep the little kids amused and get them working creatively. Chad's drawing isn't like the others' drawings however. Instead of your traditional idea of a house, his teacher receives a drawing of:
  • "nothing more than a black square filling ninety percent of the page...In the thin margins, Chad had added the marauding creatures."
I pity that teacher. I mean, that's got to be a shock when you're expecting a little boxy house with a smiley yellow sun in the corner. Daisy has a similar picture, taking up less space on the page and presumably no monsters. Because the pictures have scared the hell out of her, she decides to take a visit to the Navidson house when neither of the children come in to school one day. And of course, everything will go horribly wrong. She goes to the door, hears screams and knocks; ordinary concerned citizen I suppose. Reston opens the door and asks her to call an ambulance, which are obviously for the two guys bleeding on the floor. Now, looking at the head-count, we can account for Karen, Tom, Reston, Jed (or the body formally known as Jed), Wax and the kids; at least that's what I can gather from what happened in previous chapters. If my count was right, we're still missing Navidson and Holloway. Ominous.
So, we skip back a little, where we see Karen neglecting her children as she monitors the radios for signs of Navidson and company, which cannot be healthy for either Karen or the kids. The distance from Navidson seems to make her switch her dependence from him to their children and helps her make up her mind to leave. She is in the process of leaving with the kids when Tom comes in with the gurney.
Well, obviously there's horror at Wax's condition, but then Reston slams the door behind him as they're followed by a deep growl. Oh dear. It's all a bit of a shambles really, especially with the teacher turning up.
If it's any consolation, Wax apparently survives, although it's kind of an abrupt way to tell it. Karen decides to show the police the corridors, which I frankly can't see going well. And it doesn't, seeing as it scares them and they, rather smartly really, walk out fairly sharpish. Apparently after the film, the door disappeared; maybe relating to that thing about the house reflecting the inhabitants' psychological state? But anyway, Karen insists on keeping the door open in case Navidson comes back, but no-one's really that hopeful on that front: in their minds I guess he's as good as dead. We get examples of how they're all coping (or not coping), when there's a rather odd sentence regarding Tom. I'm not sure whether this is just a typo or deliberate, but when Tom starts drinking heavily to cope with the loss of his brother, it says:
  • "He might have spent all night drinking had exhaustion not caught up with me."
Now I don't know about you, but that's just a tiny bit weird. Anyway, Tom and Reston try to go back in and save Navidson, but find that the corridor only extends 30', with no branching corridors. Chad refuses to go back inside when he hears a bang followed by a sound like someone dying; probably Holloway then. Tom starts drinking even more, which is unfortunate but understandable. Karen starts paying attention to her children again and gets ready to leave with them, which is understandable and really should've been done a long time before in all honesty. Reston continues toman the radios, even though the hallway has shortened to 10'. Everything seems lost when Navidson walks out of the door, presumably amazed that he got out at all. Karen seems pleased to see him, but makes no change in her plans, which is a very smart thing. Holloway seems to have disappeared within the house, leaving behind only the tape he was recording. Apparently the only one who still wishes to stay in the house after watching that tape is Navidson, but then we've already seen that he's just a bit of an idiot regarding that.
So we're now on to Holloway's tape. According to a footnote by Johnny there are gaps where some kind of ash (type unknown) have burnt through the paper, which he's decided not to try and reconstruct. Obviously he links it in his head to some kind of explosion; thanks for that bit of paranoia, Johnny, thanks a bunch. Lude visited and advised him to get rid of Zampano's papers: wise words but a bit hollow from the guy dumb enough to show them to Johnny in the first place. Johnny himself knows how bad these papers are for him, but he can't seem to quit them until he's made them into just a book. If it doesn't abate, he has a new gun to shoot himself with, which is probably the kinder fate in all honesty.
Anyway, back to the main narrative which is looking at the madness of Holloway. Seems he was treated for depression, which, from what I can remember from college psychology, doesn't generally make you want to go out and shoot people. Considered suicide due to feelings of inadequacy despite all his achievements, so so far so vaguely normal. Started dating a girl in high school who dumped him for a footballer; still vaguely normal, and beginning to wonder if any of this will actually account for what sent him over the edge, seeing as these aren't exactly uncommon. The argument seems to be that his insanity was caused by Jed and Wax's desire to turn back as a final sign of his inadequacy and failings, which I guess makes a certain amount of sense. The book also seems to equate suicidal depression with murderous rage; having seen people suffering from clinical depression this is, if you'll pardon the term, utter bullshit. Frankly, anyone with genuine depression finds it hard just to get up in the morning, let alone try and kill people, so this is pretty offensive really. Although we now have an opposing viewpoint, which seems to be less attacking suicidal people and more actually thinking of a credible reason. In this, it is shown that Navidson too had suicidal tendencies, but managed to avoid trying to take two people with him; however, no actual reason for Holloway's actions. Oh well, we're on to the tape now, which should be more interesting.
Basically what we have is Holloway wandering around, getting more and more lost, continually muttering who he is and that he doesn't deserve to die; I'm sure Jed and Wax would disagree with that last point, but that's beside the point I suppose. There's an emphasis on Holloway's assertion that there's something stalking him, however critics can't seem to decide whether it's a real monster or something more rational. Great, more uncertainty. In all the uncertainty, Holloway shoots himself. Despite the fact that I really didn't like him, it's almost sad to read. Almost, but not quite. Anyway, right near the end of the tape, there's a minute or so of nothing. Then claws reach out and consume Holloway in darkness. If that isn't creepy, I really don't know what is.
After watching the tape, everyone except Navidson is understandably a little freaked out and decides to get the hell out of there, with Tom creating a barricade against the door. Although I've just had the thought of: "Surely there's still that closet thingy upstairs?" Why do I get the feeling that will become important again? Anyway, there's a nice little scene between Navidson and Tom, before Reston hears something. It builds, making you think it'll knock down the barricade, then dies down and knocks. Somehow, that's scarier than if it had just stormed straight through. Turns out the house is going to change to try and get them instead of using the conventional means of the door, starting with Karen. Well, at least we know that the monster is creative. Yippee. And the house has eaten the kids. Dear God, and right after they were starting to be interesting. Never mind, they're safe, if traumatised for life. Instead, Tom bites the bullet, as I predicted he would a couple chapters back. And that's where the chapter ends, with Tom falling into a black abyss. So the house got angry that they were leaving, huh? So much for this being a house to create a closer family.

Anyway, I'll probably update again tomorrow, but while I still have time, let me just wish you a Happy Valentine's Day, regardless of how you spent it.

Signing off,

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