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Creator / Mark Z. Danielewski

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"We all create stories to protect ourselves."

Mark Z. Danielewski (born March 5, 1966) is an American author best known for House of Leaves. His works all employ unique and unconventional styles in terms of the formatting of the text itself, and also are somewhat infamous for being very confusing a good portion of the time.

His works so far include:

Each of his books is formatted in a way meant to reference an altogether different art medium - House of Leaves is connected to the movie, Only Revolutions is connected to music, The Fifty Year Sword is connected to campfire stories, and The Familiar is connected to television series. This is reflected by the style of the books, such as Only Revolutions being written in a somewhat musical, poetry-esque style, and The Familiar being released in several small pieces.

Poe is his sister, and their works are somewhat connected.

Tropes commonly used by MZD

  • Bilingual Bonus: Sometimes you get translations next to the usage of other languages, but not all the time. The Familiar takes it up to eleven by including not only about a dozen human languages (including Chinese and Arabic), but also inserting C++ computer code.
  • Call-Back: In his works there often are references to his earlier works. All in all his works begin to approach a Shared Universe.
    • The "allways" from Only Revolutions appearing in The Fifty Year Sword and The Familiar - with "allways" itself being possibly connected to House of Leaves (hallways.)
    • The Familiar refers to House of Leaves by printing instances of the word "House" in blue, as in that earlier book.
  • Color Motif:
    • Pink is an important and recurring color in The Familiar, which has pink on the cover, some words printed in pink, and a protagonist who really loves the color pink—whenever her clothes or her other stuff are described they are pink.
    • House of Leaves does it with black, with many references to how extremely black everything in the house is, plus having a black cover itself. Also it prints the word "House" always in blue.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • House of Leaves has a.o. French, German and Latin - some parts translated, others not.
    • The Familiar has a few narrators whose native language is not English and sometimes interject their native language (namely, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Armenian or Mandarin) in the narrative.
  • Mind Screw: In both content and style, which makes his books controversial as figuring out how to read them must be accomplished before beginning to figure out what's going on.
  • Spiritual Successor: In terms of his thematic and stylistic preoccupations, he's something of an heir to Jorge Luis Borges.
  • Title Drop: Usually at least one per book, often more. House of Leaves brings this to its logical conclusion by having a character literally read the book House of Leaves.
  • Unconventional Formatting: The master of it. Colored text, upside-down text, a myriad of fonts, text arranged in the shape of what's going on in the book, raining text, footnote labyrinths... the guy does it all. He's gone on record as disowning any adaptations of House of Leaves in any format other than print, though considering how bizarre that book is, successfully adapting it would be a challenge in and of itself.
  • Unreliable Narrator: There are no reliable narrators in an MZD novel, and that's not hyperbole. For one infamous example in House of Leaves, narrator Johnny at a certain point even outright tells the reader that the last few pages were totally made up. The Familiar at first seems like it's going to avert this with what looks like third-person omniscient narration, but it's soon explained that the narrators are entities called "Narrative Constructs", who quickly prove to be fallible when they begin expressing confusion over the limits of their perception.