I’m currently reading Danielewski’s House of Leaves. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a winding labyrinth of a novel (no David Bowie sightings, yet). It attempts to pick up where Tristram Shandy left off–literary and literary criticism allusions collect in the footnotes like pools of water.
Ordinarily, I love paratextual jungles. My favorite day as a TA was the day I taught Tristram Shandy (Steve Coogan = win!). I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. But something has happened while reading House of Leaves that has thrown me off my guard.
Some of the footnotes are missing commas.
How do I know this, and why do I care? For the past year I have been working as an editor for the school’s journal. I have become, dare I say it, persnickety. I notice (and care!) when texts have funky italicized marks and when there are two spaces instead of one.
And now that I am reading a pseudo-academic novel where different editors appear in different fonts and the book turns inside-out halfway through, I care about those commas. What does it mean??? In a novel of this size and complexity, I’m sure the author and the publishing house were careful to get in all the little details. Including commas.
I feel like the absent commas are another (sub)text waiting to be unlocked, a sign waiting for its signifier. Or is it the other way around?
This book has gotten inside my head. I think I’m thinking too much.