What Did People Do Before the Internet? Play Pinochle?
I'm not sure if I would have made it through David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas if it wasn't for the articulate plot summaries at EditorialEyes Book Blog . . . the book consists of six nested stories, and the main character in each story has some connection to the next narrative -- and the chronology runs from an 1850's Melvillean journal to a post-apocalyptic tale set in the far future; the stories themselves would be inventive enough on their own, but the fragmented chain structure and the inventive language in each tale makes the book both masterful and possibly mastubatory . . . it is challenging reading, but with the help of the internet, I had no trouble connecting the dots . . . and this has been the theme of my summer -- I finished Infinite Jest, but I certainly had some very necessary help from the web, and I am watching Breaking Bad in real time and I needed some information from the digital superhighway to explain what happened at the end of episode 11 (Confessions) . . . and while I have never claimed to be the most astute reader or viewer, I am wondering if this is a sea change in how we read and watch . . . I don't remember having to seek to much aid when I read things in high school, college and through my twenties, and I certainly never had to ask anyone for help in explaining Melrose Place (although I did purchase and use a guide when I read Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow) but perhaps now the mark of a profound and complex piece of art is that you need to seek other sources and perspectives to understand it . . . and just so there is no misunderstanding, I want to assure you that Sentence of Dave will never help you in that regard, in fact, you'll leave here more bewildered than when you entered.