nov·el /ˈnävəl/ noun
1. a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.adjective2. new or unusual in an interesting way.
Poet Ezra Pound once wrote, “The artist is always beginning. Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, or a discovery is of little worth.” The very word “novel” implies innovation; in fact, the first printed novels were thus named for their specific cutting-edge contemporary style of writing. The novel itself (which was different from the other books available at the time of their invention, which included but were limited to *mostly* Bibles, ancient plays or works of poetry, or books of science or history) has gone through many iterations over the years, evolving from Gothic romance stories of the 19th century to modern series’ and now experimental novels.
This work Pry, though it is digital literature, can be considered [a] “novel” by some, in the way that it is taking the tradition of storytelling via literature and “making it new” (“novel” here meaning new, as well as a book) .
Pry as its own art form is exploratory and experimental. It combines traditional elements of literature with modern technology and creates a work/book that is truly “novel”. Pry also forces readers to use more than their eyes to understand the whole story (immersion via sound and tactile elements blurs the lines between reality and the novel itself).
Pry disrupts the preconceptions we have of reading practices and forces readers to [re]learn [new] reading methods [again] (for instance, the new method of reading by discovery: ie. being forced to actively search for the right paragraph while prying eyes open). This technique brings a new level of depth to the tactile exploration of the novel. For instance, the act of turning a page of a book has been a tactile act of discovery with reading: one turns the page to gain new information. However, inPry, the level of exploration is a new element that illuminates the depth of the novel; the amount of work put in to reading the story directly parallels the depth of the passage being read (ie. deeper ideas force the reader to look harder).
As a work of literature, Pry alludes to established and known works of digital literature, which helps it to be considered in league with those digital literature works. The (game-like) work itself IS novel, in the way that it present literature in a new and ‘novel’ digital form.
Pry uses flashing fiction (reminiscent of Dreamlife of Letters by Brian Kim Stefans) to disrupt meaning, which creates destabilization and
reconfigures the readers’ attachment to a signified/signifior. In other words, the flashing fiction allows for the impact of certain words to be captured by the reader, which can be different every time and for every reader. Depending on what words they are able to see as they flash by, the reader makes a connection between those key words and the passage being read.
Pry is also reminiscent of DAKOTA by Yung-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. The stream-of-conciousness style and pacing creates anxiety and confusion for the reader. The uncontrollable and at times illegible text can make readers feel as if they are missing something, and at the same time prevents them from going back to check or reread. Instead, the reader must begin the whole chapter again from the beginning in order to review the passage. By removing control from the reader Pry attempts to convey the feelings associated with those who suffer from PTSD. In this way, Pry needs this new “novel” form of digital in order to successfully convey what it feels like/looks like/sounds like to have PTSD.
Pry forces the reader to have an immerse experience while reading the text in a way that paper novels are unable to achieve. By digitizing the work there are more ways to present the information which elevates the meaning and brings new levels of understanding to readers.Pry also confronts the reader with questions of disorientation, which makes the reader become trained in seeing meaning through the depth and confusion – also a parallel to the lack of control associated with PTSD.