Friday September 16th, 2011

Thinking Outside the Book

At the New York Observer, I write about Paul La Farge’s new novel, Luminous Airplanes, which will be gradually expanded with additional text online to about three times the book’s length. I also spoke to La Farge about the project:

He avoids calling his own work hypertext, preferring the term “immersive text.” The word “hypertext” has already fallen largely out of circulation (La Farge first conceived of this project in 1999), and the use of the form for literary purposes has been spotty at best. “With the exception of Geoff Ryman’s excellent 253, [hypertext fiction is] mostly pretty tough going,” La Farge said. “I think the early enthusiasm for the technology might have given writers a feeling of needing to do less writing work, because the form would carry the work. Whereas my sense is that the opposite is true: you have to pay as much attention to the writing of a hypertext as you would to the writing of a novel, or more attention, really, because novels produce a kind of natural engrossment, whereas online you’re always struggling to hold the reader’s attention.”