Thursday, October 10, 2002


Tim Parks thoughtful (though skeptical) essay on Tales Told by the Computer appears in the October 24 issue of the New York Review of Books. He reads Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl with intelligence and sympathy, Stuart Moulthrop's Hegirascope with a mixture of dole and delight, and finds little use for Talan Memmott's Lolli's Apartment. There's plenty of room for disagreement, but this is real criticism of real hypertexts.

To his credit, Parks avoids the pitfalls and facile arguments. He zooms past ebooks, scorns the Bolter test, refuses to be distracted by golden-age mirages or drawn into the endless wrangle of word and image.

Most intriguingly, Parks returns once more to the question of closure. afternoon, a story observes, famously, that "closure is a suspect quality." Parks would argue that this suspicion is ill-founded; to him, closure is a pleasant and beneficial drug.

(You can purchase the article online, but the Web access fee for the single article is only 25 cents less than the newstand price)