Here’s a link to the recently posted interview between me and the multitalented Joe Rositano at Electric Literature. We talk about If, the use of the term “choicefic” to describe books with branching narratives, skepticism, Burke, and what comes next.
As I mentioned recently, I’ve got a novel coming out soon. It uses an experimental form where the reader makes a choice at the end of every chapter, and the choices determine the course and style of the novel.
A lot of the novel is written in one or another variation on a traditional realist style. But looking back, I think my favorite parts of the novel are the sections where it departs from realism. I thought I’d post one of the more experimental endings here — without any attempt to provide context. (Know that there was a lot of development leading up to this passage…) This comes at the conclusion of one of the narrative threads:
Dislocated by weariness, you make your way toward the abandoned train station. All the while the cavity grows, expanding to the inside of your throat and stomach, spreading its wet fingers around your lungs. If it goes on like this, soon nothing but a cavity will remain.
I’ve been helping to write the promotional materials for If (a novel by the author(s) of this blog) over the last few days, and I thought I’d post some of the materials here in case anyone would be curious. If will be coming out later this year from Livingston Press, a refuge of the humanities in the fine state of Alabama:
In If, I used an experimental form where the reader makes a choice at the end of every chapter, and this choice determines the course of the novel. A lot of people probably remember reading adventure books like this when they were children, and part of my goal was to play with that association — to start the book as a children’s book, and slowly have it transform into different things. I wanted to show the metamorphosis from youth to adulthood by making the book change from the kind of book that a middle schooler might read to the kinds of books and poems we read as adults.
Instead of following a single narrative, the chapters in If branch out from one another. Why did you take this approach?
I wanted to write a novel where not only the characters and the setting change, but the book itself goes through metamorphoses. The style changes, the shapes of the paragraphs change, sometimes the genre. My sense is that a boy’s lived experience at the age of twelve is so different from his life at the age of twenty, it’s more like the difference between two novels than like the differences inside of most novels. If tries to capture that.