Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Mark Z. Danielewski's script for a House Of Leaves TV pilot is just as bewildering and fascinating as the book

Photo: Ulf Andersen (Getty Images)

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House Of Leaves remains one of the most contentious literary debuts of its generation, either an elaborate metafictionial con-job masquerading as a philosophical treatise, or one of the most subtly horrific love stories ever written, depending on your personal take on its densely packed, ambiguity-addicted prose. The one thing most people can agree on, then, is that Danielewski’s novel—which features constantly shifting and unreliable narrators, mountains of tangential footnotes, and whole sections where the book’s text reforms itself into literal labyrinths on the page—would be a nightmare to put on film.

And yet—reminding us that nothing relating to the house (please imagine your own blue text here) can ever be truly certain—Danielewski attempted to do just that last year, penning a script for a TV pilot for an adaptation of the book. Now, courtesy of Birth.Movies.Death, which caught a tweet from Danielewski promoting it, that script is available online in PDF form, to the delight of House Of Leaves fanatics, and the probable consternation of its critics.


Reading through the 62-page script, it quickly becomes clear that, if nothing else, Danielewski has successfully translated the disorientation his writing regularly provokes in readers to the screen, from the opening scene in which talking heads denounce him, the author, for falsely claiming that the film at the book’s center, The Navidson Report, was fake, to the moment when an unseen “Director” hijacks the pilot’s narrative to question the veracity of some of its camera choices. Along the way, we get some of the book’s “greatest hits,” including plenty of time with reclusive narrator Johnny Truant (past and future), and sequences like the infamous “Five And A Half Minute Hallway.”

It’s not clear whether there’s any chance of the TV project actually moving forward; Wikipedia currently says it’s been abandoned, although the “citation needed” tag hanging off of that bit of information will trigger all sorts of weird paranoia in anyone who’s spent much time with the book’s deft blend of fact and fiction. If nothing else, the script itself is the first new HOL content that Danielewski’s produced in years, and will likely be a fascinating footnote for the novel’s fans.

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