Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Archive of Alternate Endings

This new book sounded very interesting.  The blurb notes that "tracking the evolution of Hansel and Gretel at seventy-five-year intervals that correspond with Earth's visits by Halley's Comet, The Archive of Alternate Endings explores how stories are disseminated and shared, edited and censored, voiced and left untold."  Well, I suppose it does all that, and much less too. 

This is a short book, which I hesitate to call a novel, and some of the sections are only a sentence or two in length, with a lot of white space afterwards, so it feels even shorter than the 152 pages that it clocks in at. The narrative bounces all over chronologically, from the past to the future, telling snippets of life stories. The problem with this book is that the narrative distance between the text and the reader is large. There is little connect, little characterization, and little story, beyond the structural meta-speak about storytelling. And the disparate elements (e.g., tying threads in with appearances of Halley's Comet) serve no purpose other than structurally. Some readers will find such writerly playfulness intriguing. I didn't. In fact I found it dull and disappointing. 

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