October 8, 2003

Mak ing  Sce n e  s

by Andrew Stern · , 11:15 am

I just moved to Boston, and a few days ago happened to walk by Brookline Booksmith, noticing a sign that said Adrienne Eisen will be reading from her new book, called Making Scenes. I thought, huh, Adrienne Eisen, the hypertext writer, has a print book?

I’ve been a fan of Adrienne’s work since her first web-based hyperfiction, Six Sex Scenes, came out about 7 years ago now. We’d had some email discussions in the past — she’s a Petz fan — but we hadn’t met in person, so that was fun.

I’ve always liked the simple but inviting and intriguing way she structures her hypertexts. Perhaps some find her link structures too straightforward, I don’t know, but I find it just complex enough to keep me interested, without making me feel lost or forced to think too hard about where I am in some complex network. As hypertext goes, her work is very readable. Also I very much like the writing and content of her stories, reminding me of one my favorite authors, Mary Gaitskill (I wonder if she gets that comparison a lot).

At the reading I asked her, why a print book? Her answer was basically, why not? The book is a sort of experiment of going from hypertext to linear. She said it was difficult, like how it was difficult for her in grad school to be forced to write linearly when she wanted to write hypertext. She really likes how hypertext allows the reader to access pages in the way we tend to remember things — often in no particular set sequence.

From what I can tell, the material for the book is mostly repurposed from her hypertexts, with some new material as well. Actually it kind of looks like a sample path through her hypertexts — one particular way a reader could have experienced the text in its original form. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose.