Newt Gingrich, Lover of Experimental Novels

Newt Gingrich, Lover of Experimental Novels

Newt Gingrich, Lover of Experimental Novels

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 25 2012 10:53 AM

Newt Gingrich, Lover of Experimental Novels

Newt Gingrich has not dropped out of the 2012 Republican primary yet. In fact, he's still stumping in North Carolina, hitching his wagon to the effort to pass a "traditional marriage" amendment to the Constitution there, selling it with this video.

But hang on: What's that book next to his right shoulder?

Screen shot 2012-04-25 at 10.29.39 AM

Look closer.

Screen shot 2012-04-25 at 10.28.39 AM

Tucked right between The Age of Lincoln and a history of Goldman Sachs is House of Leaves, the incredibly difficult first novel by Mark Z. Danielewski. Having failed to finish it myself, I'll point you to John Brownlee's description of the plot and style.

The plot is complicated to describe, as it is tiered through multiple narrators of varying degrees of sanity in the form of an endless, nearly stream-of-conscious series of clippings, manuscripts and footnotes. Still, the novel is largely concerned with a mock film criticism on a documentary about a door that suddenly appears in a Virginian house. This door leads to an endless labyrinth that defies the dimensions of the containing architecture of the house surrounding it. The labyrinth is completely uniform in all ways except the extensions of its space: it is empty, cold and always black. The Navsion Record relates the various psychological effects this impossible space has upon its explorers, who find the labyrinth constantly twisting and changing around them as they plunge deeper and deeper into its depths.

There is a statement to be made about this plot and about Gingrich's very, very, very deliberate decision to wind down his campaign. Possibly. It could be that he just likes postmodern fiction more than he lets on.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.