Wednesday, January 4th, 2006
It took me a few years of probing into a character to find out why he doesn’t like books. This is brother Sandoval, the protagonist of my hypertext novel, The Life of . . . .
There’s a conversation that happens with another man in New Mexico and Sandoval goes off on a dramatic dissertation on the problem with books. It’s more complicated than just one reason, but it also has a lot to do with hypertext. Sandoval writes the story but feels that a book wouldn’t be the right way to go about telling “his.” Fortunately, hypertext provides the vehicle, or, better, “the answer.”
The question of method helps uncover Sandoval’s problem, small and trivial as it may seem. Books are built not to be read but to be closed and shelved. For Sandoval, a book is a form of storage technology. The spine of a book doesn’t make sense to him in that it works better closed than open, unlike a hinge, whose angle of pressure never changes, swinging or at rest. A book is a physical and magical mystery: 1) closed, it’s worthless and impossible to uncover 2) opened, it begs to be closed.