It seems like eons ago, as Katherine Hales puts it in her essay on digital literature, when people were bending the rules to expand the world of literature to printed books. It was a monumental change that helped launch a new era of Renaissance and it helped to establish a new benchmark for education.
Today, the world is undoubtedly digital, and many believe that because of this, literature is undergoing yet another transformation. Digital literature is emerging into relevance, as devices such as the I-Phone and I-Pad consume more of peoples lives.
On the forefront of this revolution are Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizarro with their novella Pry. Released as an app for apple touch-screen devices, Pry has come to be known as “A book to watch and a film to touch.’ Although I would be skeptical to call it a “read,’ -it’s not quite the same as a book- Pry is definitely worth a download.
The novella documents the story of a man named James, a man who works for a demolition company, and is also a Gulf War veteran. Throughout the story he seems to be suffering from PTSD while at the same time going blind. The reader is able to “pry’ into his subconscious to learn about his past, while also being able to open his eyes to experience the current story by interacting with the touch screen. In other chapters the reader is required to feel their way through a brail bible passage as the narrator reads it out loud and try to navigate through a sea of ever-expanding text and videos to learn more about the characters and story.
Pry’s unique approach to literature has helped expand Espen Aarseth’s world of egrotic literature; what LA Weekly describes as “text that requires more of readers than simply moving the eye from left to right between page turns.’ The player is able to immerse themselves into the world of James and explore it in a non-linear fashion. This un-orthodox approach creates a unique experience for each reader, and requires much more thought and interaction than any book. The player is able to do what ever he/she wants rather than just being able to turn pages.
The most intriguing aspect of the novella is it’s genre/ format. It seems to be lost somewhere within the triad of movies, books, and video games, yet Pry is still able to offer the best of all three worlds. The films and narrations offer the same intrigue as movies; the collection of “diamonds’ offers the same interactivity as video games; and the text creates the literature aspect that most movies and video games miss.
No matter how you categorize Pry, there is no doubt that it is helping uncover new realms of literature, and anyone who is interested in the potential future of Literature should definitely take the time to explore the heralded novella that engages the reader and
“Everyone interested in the contemporary state or future of literature as a hybrid tactile mediated experience should experience Pry.’
“The narrative is fragmented, the visuals atmospheric: Charlie Kaufman by way of an acid trip.”