By Margaret Drabble
Margaret Drabble's novels have illuminated the previous fifty years, particularly the altering lives of girls, like no others. but her brief fiction has its personal detailed brilliance. Her penetrating evocations of personality and position, her wide-ranging interest, her experience of irony—all are on show right here, in tales that discover marriage, woman friendships, the English vacationer overseas, amorous affairs with homes, peace demonstrations, gin and tonics, cultural television courses; in tales which are perceptive, sharp, and humorous. An advent via the Spanish educational José Fernández areas the tales within the context of her existence and her novels. This assortment is an excellent recapitulation of a masterly occupation.
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They cite as theoretical precedent Burroughs’s idea that randomization is a way to break the hold of the viral word and liberate resistances latent in lan guage by freeing it from linear syntax and coherent narra tive . 5 2 Other notable instances of randomizing works are Jim Andrews’s Stir Fry Texts, in which collaborators used An drews’s “Stir Fry” algorithm to randomize their texts ; ' 5 When You Reach Kyoto, a visual/verbal collaboration by Geniwate and Brian Kim Stefans ; 5 4 Millie Niss and Martha Deed’s Oulipoems;ss and Patrick-Henri Burgaud’s Jean-Pierre Balpe ou les Lettres Derangees, a tribute to the earlier mentioned poet and software developer Jean-Pierre Balpe (also a pioneer in text generation algorithms) in which the work performs as a textual instrument that the user can manipulate .
As noted in chapter 1, almost all print books are digital files before they become books; this is the form in which they are composed, edited, compos ited, and sent to the computerized machines that produce them as books. They should, then, properly be considered as elec tronic texts for which print is the output form. eaves, Jona than Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper,' texts whose dy namics are explored in chapter 5. The computational nature of twenty-first century literature is most evident, however, in elec tronic literature.
9 The drama situates the user as a dinner guest of a couple, Grace and Trip, celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. Al though the couple appears prosperous and happy, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf fashion, cracks soon develop in the facade. The user can intervene in various ways, but all paths lead to an explosion at the end, a programming choice that maintains intact the Aristotelian plot structure of a beginning, middle, and end. How to maintain such conventional narrative devices as rising tension, conflict, and denouement in interactive forms where the user determines sequence continues to pose formi dable problems for writers of electronic literature, especially narrative fiction.
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