I was wandering through what seemed to be the large, spooky seaside arcade in Neil's The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. Hanging in a deserted stall I saw the mask from the (creepy) cover of Billy Joel's album The Stranger. "It's the little face," I thought with dread. As I did, a tunnel opened in the wall where none had been before, and there stood Billy himself, a very young version of him, thin and pompadoured, wearing a loud plaid jacket and drainpipe pants and a skinny tie, staring at me with great glowing luminous eyes that I knew would lure me into the tunnel if I didn't look away. But I couldn't look away.
I didn't remember most of this dream until, while fixing squash fritters for lunch today, I was listening to The Stranger and my hands started shaking like, well, leaves when the title track came on. I didn't feel objectively scared, but I found that I couldn't safely handle a knife until I turned the music off. I expect House of Leaves has caused many nightmares in the decade since its publication, but I feel almost certain that I must be the first person it ever made scared of Billy Joel. (Must get over this! Soon I'll listen to some of his happier/snarlier/eviler songs and feel better about the whole thing. But not while I'm alone in the house tonight.)
Anyway, I'm sure a great deal has been written about House of Leaves and Mark Z. Danielewski, and I intend to look up some of it when I've finished reading the book. Until then, I'm cool with discussing the book itself, but I don't want to know anything at all about its history or the author. (If you have any interesting links, though, I'll take 'em for later reference.)
Also, now I see why greygirlbeast felt moved to make the word "house" blue every time she used it in her journal for several years. I mean, I knew it was because of House of Leaves, but I didn't realize how much this book had influenced her work over the past decade. Strangely, I don't recall any reviews mentioning this influence, especially on her most recent (and excellent) novel The Red Tree. Perhaps the reviewers were daunted by House of Leaves, as I was, and haven't read it? If they liked The Red Tree, they certainly should; the two books are intriguing to compare and contrast. Probably there's a dissertation in it for some really smart person. (And if I'm way off base here, Cait, feel free to
*A very different example, one I posted on Twitter some time back: "Hunter S. Thompson's ultimate goal in life was to become a kind of drug himself, and he achieved this. Discuss."