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Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Anonymous Reader on the Wonders of Nicholas Rombes' Serialized Story

Dear HFR Blog,

I enjoy reading the “News around the Net” section. I feel in the proverbial loop when I do. Someone, knowing I am a fan of Jane Austen, asked if I’d heard the new controversy over her untimely death. I said, “why, yes, yes I have.” (My source: the December 4th post.) It is a truth universally acknowledged that someone bringing up a famous author instead of last night’s episode of [insert mainstream hit television show of your choice here] must be in want of a conversation. After a gripping exchange on the true importance of investigations into the celebrity dead, I brought up another item I’d seen on that same blog post. And found another point of conversation: the luddite literature movement. Here is the item as it appeared on your blog: “There's Rick Moody and his Twitterature, then there's this. Some people are focused on bringing writing into the electronic age, Nicholas Rombes is bringing it back to the 19th century. Touche, Mr. Rombes.”

I don’t like Twitter much. I like Rick Moody a lot. I like it when people use fencing terms to acknowledge a conversational point awarded. I followed both links in the post. Result: I still like Rick Moody. I still don’t like Twitter much. Reading the second link, I decided to subscribe to the Nicholas Rombes serial story Nightmare Trails at Knifepoint, a novella that’s mailed in bits, in individual pamphlets, over the course of the year. This chain of events actually caught me off-guard. But the siren-song of the unknown was too loud. So, through the wonder of technology (internet ordering) I nabbed an old-school snail-mail subscription to the Dickensian art form of the serial.

The novella is described as “a lightning-flashed noir, a haunted detective novel for our disordered age. Ephraim P. Noble is a new kind of hero who must face the incoherence of a vast underground tunnel system built at the same time as the interstate highway system in the 1950s, a clock that doesn't keep time but creates it, his doppelganger, a mad (as in sanatorium) hunchback, a shadowy woman with long fingers whom he just happens to love, and a dark mystery as complicated as life itself.” Who doesn’t want to read about shadowy woman with long fingers? Cue Jerry McGuire scene: “You had me at “doppelganger.”

There are also these bizarre “narrative cards” that are illustrations to the story and rock pretty hard on their own. Letters have come on old stationary harvested from various locations (Hotels? Navy Ships?), with cut-and-pasted bits from catalogues, and my name has been typed, scrawled, or sharpie-penned into various spots to make me feel that yes, indeed, the mystery is mine to uncover.

The unexpected bonus is the waiting. I like the stories well enough; they remind me a bit of my younger-years affection for Edgar Allen Poe. But it is the wondering when the next pamphlet will arrive that is really giving my instant-gratification instincts a run for their money. I know this was the basic premise for the Twitterature postings too. Maybe I just have a threshold that needs doses bigger than 140 characters to feel the effects. Because I can honestly say I am excited about the next installment of the NT. I’m becoming the kid in A Christmas Story: stalking the mailbox for my decoder ring. Perhaps disillusionment looms, perhaps I will be told to drink my Ovaltine. But who can argue with that when there’s an insane hunchback in the wings?

Thanks for spreading the news about such a wide-variety of ways to enjoy the worded-world.

Reader of Austen, pamph-lit, and your blog

1 comment:

Nick said...

Dear Anonymous Reader,

Thank you for these words, and for the mystery . . .