House of Leaves: what is a book?

I said back in October that I was going to write about the nature of the book House of Leaves, then never got around to it.  So I think I'm going to dump out some of my thoughts on that now.  Book might not be the right word for what I'm getting at, though.  It might be more accurate to ask, is House of Leaves a novel? One of my favorite things about writing as art is that it's the only form of art that doesn't directly interact with any of the senses.  Not that I think that makes it better than other art forms, but I do think it makes it sort of special.  You can take most books -- Pride and Prejudice, say -- and change the font, put them on a scroll, publish them as a single, long web page, and as long as you follow a minimum of formatting guidelines (paragraph breaks, faithful punctuation) it's still, pretty much unarguably, the same book.  Like, very few books couldn't be printed as an eBook.

House of Leaves, though, definitely couldn't.  You could maybe roughly approximate it with a series of images of the pages, but the formatting matters.  The colors matter.  The fonts matter, the placement of the pages in relation to each other matters -- there's simply no way to boil House of Leaves down into a format that could be neatly copied and pasted across multiple platforms.

My first thought, when trying to work out what House of Leaves is, was that it's a sculpture -- an intensely immersive sculpture.  But another, much better category somewhat recently occurred to me:  It's a graphic novel.

I mean, it's the wordiest graphic novel I've ever read.  There are almost no pictures at all.  But I think it's definitely closer to a graphic novel than any other form I can think of.

Talk to you tomorrow.