My chosen E-lit piece for this week was “Inanimate Alice.” And to be honest, it left me with both a pleasant and weird taste in my mouth. By this point, I have tasted the waters in this ocean of electronic literature, thanks to all the previous works we’ve covered in class. Surprisingly enough, each of the works have felt unique in various ways to me each time. This one, again, is no exception. But the reason I was left with mixed feeling after reading it and interacting with the piece, was it was the first piece from all the others that I actually understood. But at the same time, it was also the first piece I didn’t enjoyed as much. This brings me to a point of experience where I have a lot of things to talk about, both positive and negative, because I would have like the work to deliver a more profound experience.
To start off, I want to talk about the things that I enjoyed and found working well for the piece, since it helped it in a literary and creative sense. Without a doubt, the work has a very strong sense of organization. This alone provides a good aspect understanding and experience for the reader, simply because of how easy it is for them to navigate through the story and the work. And so, these two combined (navigation and organization) work wonders in this case.
At the far-right-corner of the screen, there is a small menu which keeps filling up with different points (chapters, scenes, or events) happening in the story. You, as a reader keep unlocking these, little by little as you progress through the work. And once you finished, you have complete access to all of them to navigate once more within the scenes or chapters. This little menu or side panel is always there for your reference as you focus on the actual work in the center and rest of the screen. I really like this idea of design, since it feels clean, easy for navigation, and organized. Adding to this, the work itself it’s very linear, even for an electronic piece. There isn’t much deviation or choices within the narration of the story. You are simply asked to continue, with the option to click on a directional arrow on the screen.
Another little thing that I found working for the work was the level of creativity. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s a master piece of creativity, but it has a decent amount of it for what it is (a very simplistic work, in every sense of the word). The way of presentation, format of story progression, story build up, and navigational design are some that showcase its creativity. There is a sense of dairy type of writing behind the story that is felt thanks to the various photographs and short notes describing or presenting them. Story progression and build-up follows on an interesting arc. The story doesn’t just start off with Alice in England, but rather with her in this abandon building, where she has a near to death experience after almost falling to her death. This triggers a type of flashback to when she first moved to England, only to come back to this moment again by the end. Sadly, I found these good qualities to be a double-edge sword, since they work for the piece in certain ways, but at the same time it limits it in other ways.
As much as I wanted to keep enjoying this piece, I couldn’t because of a few limitations that wouldn’t make the work anymore interesting. I felt I was left with the taste of it in my lips, without having the chance to take a full bite. So, here we have a linear and easily to read work, thanks to its design, organization, and way of progression. But I felt there was a lack of development to the things introduced to us (the reader). There were almost just presented, without in-depth amount of details. This is mainly in relation to the scenes and moments which are constantly showcased with real-life photographs. The story itself didn’t have much depth to it, which is why it felt so short and easy to read in the first place. It basically goes like this:
She finds herself in this abandon building with her friends, taking on a dare to climb up the stairs. She has a near to death falling experience, which triggers a past-related (memory) sort of events of when she first moved to England. This memory focuses on her experience moving into to a certain old house, where she lives with her parents (Dad is teacher, and Mom is a community worker). She then comes to the conclusion that either of her parents like the place, but she fell in love with it, contrary to her parents. Then Alice is back again (where the story first started) at the abandon building finding her way out of it.
Yeah……., that’s it! And that’s all…..! The problem, that aside from the beginning of the story, where there as more details to the scene and even taking place, the rest felt flat, abbreviated, and without much depth. However, there is some amount of pictures relating each scene, but it’s literally 1 or 2 for each scene, joined by small notes or sentences. I do understand that this is just a chapter (the 4th one) in such literary work. But this chapter alone hints much about what we can expect from the previous chapters in terms of narrations, design, and similar aspects.
Above is my example of this. This was supposed to be the meat of the work (a.k.a, the rising action and climax for this chapter), but there isn’t much to it. Each of these “clicking-parts” of her experience basically consists of 1 or 2 pictures, and 1 or 2 sentences. It just wasn’t enough! She gave us open topics about her school, friends, the city, and her project. But we only learned briefly stated that: her house was old, her school friends had different ethnical backgrounds, and her old city in England filled with old buildings and water canals. I was left wanting to know more from each of these, as it would strengthen her story and reason to even having one in the first place.
And so, I was left with mixed feelings about the work. I honestly like a bunch of things about it, which kept me wanting more. The level of interest was such, that I would even consider learning about the previous chapters of this large piece of works. But at the same time, I’m afraid the other works will also follow on a similar format, and I will have the same mixed impression again. I guess my issue was with the story development and content. But this has just been my take on it, and I know that maybe if I had approach it in the beginning with a different state of mind, I wouldn’t noticed such things.