I'm not sure what to do with this book yet. I think it's a matter of perspective, in the strictest sense--it's important not to try and hold it too closely, to micro-analyze it. For one thing, that's impossible, and trying will cause English Major Head Implosion. There are a bazillion things to analyze on every page, and the nested academic footnotes and welter of real and fake references don't help either. This book mocks all attempts at doing what it is we think we're supposed to do with books.
On the other hand, holding it too far away, assuming it doesn't make sense, doesn't mean anything and is just there to thwart and annoy us, also misses the point. It is, if nothing else, beautifully made. The pieces do all fit together, reflect and echo and complement each other--even the digressions. Zampano's long and absurdly academic digression on the topic of "Echo somewhere between pp 44-54, for example, describes exactly what it is we try to do when we navigate any kind of unfamiliar space, architectural or intellectual--make a sound and wait for something to come back to us. Even though an echo isn't real communication, strictly speaking, it is at least signals depth and boundaries. All the stuff about labyrinths makes perfect sense too. A labyrinth is an architectural structure which is also a mystery--and a very dangerous one if there happen to be any minotaurs hanging out in the center of them.
The whole discussion of the uncanny on pp 24-25 is somewhat helpful too--the unheimlich is that which is not home, not comforting, not safe--the things that look like those things, but aren't. That's pretty much exactly how most horror tropes work--haunted houses, monsters. They're just versions of us and our fears and desires, really.
This book does tell us how to read it. There's a plot we can follow, a fairly small cast of characters, a sort of narrative consistency. Johnny's crazy, as it turns out, has a history.
What I'm noticing are all the little echoes in the book, all the parallels between Johnny's narrative and Zampano's writeup of the Navidson Record, the academic digressions and the main plot. But most of all, I'm pretty sure that the house and the book echo each other. One of the definitions of 'leaf' is "a single sheet of paper, a page from a book. A house of leaves is an uncanny piece of architecture with doorways, corridors, and spaces that defy the laws of physics, which haunt a family. A book is also a house of leaves, opening up impossible worlds for its reader.
OK, so tell me. What are your thoughts? What is your way in to this book? What do you notice?