“Stitch Bitch – An Itch I’d Like To Ditch”

Shelley Jackson’s “patchwork girl” isn’t the only thing barely held together; her writing and argument could use some stitching up.

Maybe that’s a little harsh. Just because I might not understand subject doesn’t automatically make it bad, right? Regardless, this particular piece of reading was very difficult to follow. I had a hunch that I would be in for an interesting experience when Jackson opened the selection by elaborating on how she is not the author at all, but some stitched-together creation. Then, through a series of extremely convoluted and hard-to-follow paragraphs, she argues the case for “hypertext”, her preferred writing style. Using many elaborate examples, likening words to spider webs and editorial devices to tutu-wearing tennis players, Jackson tries to show that non-linear writing is not all that bad. While I don’t inherently disagree, I believe that she could have made her point better. I don’t really know how, since the writing was so disjointed, but I’m sure that in a future edit Jackson could retain the feel of the piece while also making it more accessible to readers with no experience in hypertext (such as myself).

I did agree with some of Jackon’s points, however. Her “spider web” analogy made a lot of sense. We as readers are conditioned to just read and read and read; often we forget to comprehend what we’re reading while we’re reading it.

“The mechanism of the chute is so effective, in fact, that it undoes the most worthy experiments; sentences that ought to stop you in your tracks are like spider webs across the chute. You rip through, they’re gone.”

I’m sure that hypertext can be interesting and thought provoking, but Jackson should write in a way that explains exactly what the reader is getting into with her work. But I guess that would defeat the point, huh?

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