The first thing that caught my eye, and what drew me into the book, was the unconventional format. The two interlocking stories that sort of mold into one are extremely interesting, and there is so much too analyze and ponder about. For instance, Johnny Truant, in reading and compiling Zampano’s narrative of the Navidson family, begins to feel the presence of things that may or may not be there. He stops eating or leaving his house, and Zampano’s narrative consumes Johnny’s life. However, it is difficult to tell if Johnny begins to lose his mind due to the things he is reading about the Navidson family, or if it is due to his drug habits and family history.
There were quite a few things about this novel that confused me, but one in particular was why Zampano had written about the Navidson family, or why he even knows about it. What also confuses me is why Johnny Truant is so fascinated by it and consumed by it if it causes him so much mental and physical stress.
Also, why all the passages and quotations in other languages if the translation in English is given directly after it? Is it supposed to add to the confusion and mysteriousness of the book?
One passage that I difficulty understanding was the translation from German to English of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. It appears directly after the Navidsons come home, after being away for a few days, to an extra open space connecting the children’s bedroom to the master bedroom. I understand that this intrusion and addition to the house was disturbing and “uncanny”, but what did the passage mean when it said, the “nothing and nowhere”? Also, why are “being-in” and “insideness” distinguished from one another when they mean the same thing? The only thing that I can think of is that the “nothing and nowhere” refers to the empty space that the Navidsons discovered. There is nothing inside of it and it came out of nowhere. Also that additional space was nowhere to be found before they left on their trip. As for the difference between “being-in” and “insideness”, I have no clue as to what the distinction could be. It was a difficult passage to make sense of.
I think the reason to make this passage, along with the book overall, difficult, is to make the reader not simply read words on a page in a conventional manner, but to analyze and make sense of what is happening in the book. It seems as though the author wants the reader to form questions and be confused because it adds to the excitement and intrigue of the story.
I also can’t help but notice that the front cover of the book is smaller than the pages of the book. When I first purchased the book I thought this was strange, but it makes sense to me now that I started reading it. This parallels the Navidsons’ house on the inside being larger than the house on the outside.