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Thursday, May 29, 2008

A lovely informal review of Mad Hatters' Review

From Martha Engber, MARTHA ENGBER:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
A New Animal

My dad in Connecticut likes to send me articles he clips from the Wall Street Journal. While eating my lunch today — toasted banana walnut bread with a healthy schmeer of peanut butter — I read yet another article about the coming, and irreversible, tide of change from the printed word to that of digital.

In this article, The Digital Future of Books by Gordon Crovitz, he refers to how new electronic gadgets have put us on a diet of info-snacking, whereby we nibble here and there at tasty, but nutrition-less content. He longs for a day when electronic readers like the Kindle allow us to once again absorb richer and more enduring literature.

But rather than be books in digital form only, Crovitz, and the experts he cites, predict the combination of digital literature and the Internet will create a new animal, one that will not eat us whole like T Rex by crushing what's left of our time and attention span with the grinding power of even more information. Rather, this new combination will blanket us in a Bambi-like charm by incorporating more of our senses. Some ideas bandied about involve the ability to store favorite passages, send them to friends and clink on links that allow us to see videos and find more information regarding the subjects we're reading about.

While the last seems like more information glut, I do believe we're moving toward a place where reading will be an all-sensory experience, as evidenced by forward-thinking online journals that have gone beyond just posting stories you can read from a website. Instead, they pair stories with artwork, animation, mood music and the option to hear the author read the work.

One such online journal is Mad Hatters' Review, which besides standard material — short fiction, flash fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and drama — accepts what the journal calls "Whatnots," or multi-genre work "including vispo (visual poetry), audio recitations, collages and texts that defy easy categorization."

Rather than find myself overstimulated, I was surprised by how much I liked the music that opens the issue, the video collages, video interviews with artists and the option to listen to the music that accompanies each story like that of Delvaux Centennial by Jason Everett.

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