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Monday, 7 March 2011

House of Leaves - The Navidson Record - Part XXI

Hi there guys, sorry for the wait. I would have done a post last night, but life got in the way. Anyway, that little scare is out of the way, so I now have a chance to review another chapter for you lovely people. Although after part 20 of the Navidson Record, hopefully this will either clear up a few things (like what the hell was actually going on in that place) or give me a bit of room to get my bearings again.
Well, the quotation sets the chapter up to be about disappointments, so I have very little idea of what's actually in store.
Regardless, I don't think I would have expected this as a beginning to the chapter:
  • "Lude's dead."
That has to be the most abrupt beginning that I've ever read. Presumably this is a chapter from the viewpoint of Johnny Truant then, which is a bit odd; he's got an appendix at the end of the Navidson Record, but I hadn't expected an entire chapter from him in the actual record itself. Oh well, I guess I'll just roll with it. From what I can tell, Lude's managed to kill himself with prescription painkillers or the crazy boyfriend who beat the crap out of him before got to him again whilst he was all drugged up. Either way, not fun. Yep, the drugs made him crash on his motorbike at 100mph, leaving his brains all over the pavement. Certainly, this is one of the more graphic death scenes I've read. And just as an aside, Johnny is sounding a lot more controlled and, to put it bluntly, sane in this bit; maybe he's exorcised whatever demon the notebooks unleashed by going out to Virginia. Or not, seeing as he's still got a few creepy imaginings going on, but he still sounds saner than he has done in a long while. Except he seems to be in an asylum, which would contradict my idea just now. This is odd to say the least.
I was wrong earlier about him being in an asylum. Presumably that was a figure of speech. But I'm kind of beginning to worry about him precisely because he's sounder saner. The creepy shit in his head and possibly around him is still happening, he just seems to have detached himself from it, getting rid of the fear at the same time. I don't know about you, but that's just a little bit unsettling. He seems to have gone to completely the opposite end of the scale, from fear and self-destructiveness to detachment and some weird sort of lack of empathy.
He's just been punched out by the creepy boyfriend guy, which comes as no surprise really, considering that if Lude got beaten up for being associated with Johnny, Johnny himself wasn't going to be let off. And he's just lost it completely, beating this guy to a pulp, I think to the point where Johnny's actually killed him. It's official, he's gone postal.
Yet the newest entry he's made seems not to realise it. Multiple personalities maybe? Because he seems to have reverted a bit to his fearful, paranoid mindset, which doesn't make sense in this new context.
New entry suggests that he can't remember what he's done since May and that he forgets whatever's happened as soon as he writes the journal, which automatically reminds me of Momento (even though I still have yet to see it).
Now skipping back to when he made his way to Virginia, so hopefully something should be explained. Regardless, he's gone down there, only to find that no-one's heard of Zampano or the Navidsons and there is no Ash Tree Lane. Seems like there's nothing in Virginia that Johnny can connect to the Navidson Record, but he's found traces of it in every place he's visited on the journey east. At the moment, it's sounding more like a trip of self-discovery than anything else. He even visited the place where his mother died, presumably expecting to find something of her there. Apparently not.
He ends up visiting friends of his who are doctors and they force him to start eating properly again. They've also put him on some kind of pill that's stopped his violent mood swings, which I'm a bit sceptical of, but then I am reading a horror novel. And of course, now that he's made it back home, he's revealed that the section about the doctor friends was a bunch of lies. I should've seen that coming at least. Regardless, he does seem calmer (and no going postal yet) after his trip, actually calling people up, like Lude and Thumper.
Now gotten past the part about Lude's death and his episode of going postal, only to find him leaving again. At least he sad goodbye to Thumper this time though; it was rather sweet if I'm honest. Maybe he needed that going postal episode, seeing as he's almost totally back to normal now. I'm wondering just how long it's going to last though.
And on his second trip, he ends up hearing some oddly familiar lyrics:
  • "I live at the end of a Five and a Half Minute Hallway."
Wonders never cease. If that doesn't set him off again, I don't know what will. Apparently the band have read the book, which is just great. At the end of this section, he seems content, which is nice. After all the torment he's gone through editing this book, he deserves to be content, if you know what I mean.
We now skip back again, to just after his going postal bit. Which apparently he didn't carry out after all, which is probably a good thing, despite how screwed up Kyrie and her psycho boyfriend are. What seems to be happening is Johnny coming to terms with what inhabits the darkness, which is a good idea in my book. I almost don't trust it, I mean you hardly ever get stuff this positive or cathartic in a horror novel.
We now get a story about a baby born without grey/white differentiation. Maybe this is Johnny and the only reason he's been so afraid of this is that he hasn't been able to tell the dark from the light or something. In any case, it is born unable to breathe by itself, so the doctors want to turn the machines off and let it fend for itself, only the mother won't let it. To prevent her baby dying, she stays up for (at the moment anyway) 3 days straight. On the 4th day, she requests that they turn the machines off. So the baby dies. And that's where the chapter ends, on that rather odd, sad moment.

This has been an odd chapter, full of emotional peaks and troughs. I think this is probably the weirdest thing about it, the amount of actual emotions that were stirred in the course of this chapter: thus far, I've only really had either creeped out or intellectual responses so far. But I think it's a good change, one I would have preferred to see a bit more often, but then that's just my preference. In any case, Johnny's storyline seems pretty much complete now, and in a satisfactory way as well.

Signing off,

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