My Nit-picky Problems with Shelley Jackson's Work

Glen Sanford

I think that my problem with Jackson's work may be more of a personal problem with Hypertext fiction. The problem for me is that I just can't get into it the way I can with normal fiction. I can appreciate it, I can enjoy the cut-up prose, and I do very much enjoy Jackson's writing, but reading Patchwork Girl doesn't give me 10% of the enjoyment that Neuromancer did. I understand the concept of semi-independent "pearls" of fiction interconnected to each other, but I personally find it somewhat difficult to see the whole from the parts. It's just too disconnected.

Part of this may be that I'm not an English concentrator, and therefore do not read anything with the same intensity and conscious analysis. I read fiction mostly because I enjoy it and although I enjoyed many of the lexias ofPatchwork Girl, I was to jarred by the medium/method to find the process enjoyable.

My Body worked for me even less. Again I greatly enjoyed the descriptions, but they seemed to be linked to each other in such an arbitrary way, that it might have worked better if you it were a two-level piece and the only way to get anywhere was from the top image.

But as it stands I'm a bit confused about how Jackson uses HTML. In my experience, HTML hyperlinks generally link from a single word or phrase to a somewhat related concept or essay. So a link on "Fruit" would lead to either a particular fruit or a general discussion of fruit or something similar. Jackson dos something else entirely. She links pages together that have a specific concept in common. For instance, two pages are linked to one another by the mention of a teacher. But the links do not take you to the place in the respective documents where the teacher is mentioned, it takes you to the top of each document.

What this does for me is that I spend a lot of time trying to understand why she chose certain links and most often, I can't come up with a good explanation. She's using a paradigm that works quite well in StorySpace, but fails, I think, in HTML.

Discussion of Patchwork Girl Overview Screen for Website Body and Self