Douglas opens this essay by mentioning some influential
ideas about closure in narrative. These ideas, she suggests, do
not satisfactorily explain how we read print fiction, let alone
hypertext. (Her reasoning is not very persuasive: she seems to
confound closure of story with other types of closure.)
Then--contrary to the spirit of most writing about hypertext--she
a fairly thorough look at two fictions by Michael Joyce,
Afternoon and WOE, and describes, in some detail,
her experiences of reading and re-reading them. These experiences
amount to a litany of confusion and contradiction, which she does
not deplore but rather embraces, with the obligatory reference to
reader-response theory. Douglas sums up as follows: "Our sense of
arriving at closure is satisfied when we manage to resolve
narrative tensions and to minimize ambiguities, to explain
puzzles, and to incorporate as many of the narrative elements as
possible into a coherent pattern--preferably one for which we
have a script gleaned from either life experience or encounters
with other narratives." This does not notably diverge from the
ideas that Douglas mentioned and dismissed at the beginning of
her essay, except that those ideas seem to assume that there is a
threshold below which overall coherence should not fall, and
Douglas is willing to settle for a whole lot less. She does
manage to convey the impression that she truly enjoys reading
hypertext fiction. De gustibus . . . . (Steve
J. Yellowlees Douglas. "'How Do I Stop This Thing?':
Closure and Indeterminacy in Interactive Narratives."
Hyper/Text/Theory. Ed. George P.
Landow. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. 159-88.
Text: Selective Annotated Bibliography.
Department of English, University of Minnesota
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Created 21 May 1995
Last revised 17 September 1996