Critical Thought: my cousin

The relative ease of publishing fiction online is more or less a matter of economics. In comparison to paper, websites cost nothing. Money doesn’t do very much to limit the number of online mags.

If it's harder to publish fiction in print, it's going to be more prestigious. For this reason, nobody really likes being called an 'internet writer.'

In writing "About Me and My Cousin," I think I was trying to imagine a different model – a future one, maybe, where the internet becomes something more than a cheaper alternative to print.

The question becomes: what's the experience of reading something on the internet, in a cognitive sense? What can we do to advance a fiction that works well, or even best, within the parameters of that experience?

Or to put it in a less brainy way: how do we embrace the medium?

When I was writing, I was just writing – like most people do – but here are some things that emerge for me when I look back:

     • The five parts are all short. Which is to say: at each point, you've got both the beginning and end of something there before you on the screen.

     • When you hit the links, you're not 'turning' a page or moving a page down. How I'd put it: the links take you, as a reader, deeper. Something is pulled back: you're moved further in.

     • Content-wise, "About My Cousin" may take its cue from the medium, moving 'into' what you get in the first piece, "Country Music," rather than forward in the usual narrative way.

Again, these are just possibilities I see, in retrospect. You might see different possibilites, and they'd be just as valid.

The ultimate question, for me: does the story work better here than it would on paper? I'm hoping the answer is yes.

Scott Garson has stories in or coming from Hobart, FRiGG, American Short Fiction, New York Tyrant, SmokeLong Quarterly and others. A collection of very short fictions, American Gymnopédies, will be out sooner or later from WWP.

about me and my cousin

my cousin's dead father

They must have had decent drugs to give out at the Dickinson County emergency room. He was in high spirits. He wore drawstring bathing trunks and an off-white porkpie hat and his belly was round. The hair on it had a gold sheen. Since the thumb had been lost in the wheel of the hoist for the boat, he thought we should dive in that place. The water was green and dim near the bottom. Rocks glowed. Lengths of seaweed caressed our thin legs. I’d burst to the surface, blinded and scared, then see the white flash of the cast on his arm. No one had gotten to sign it yet; we had to retrieve the thumb first.

by Scott Garson