I chose Shelley Jackson’s My Body because I think early hypertext is particularly interesting considering the limited environments they worked in, and the trails they were blazing. It definitely falls into what Marie-Laure Ryan called classical hypertext- a network of lexia with external/exploratory interactivity. I was immediately drawn in my the first page- the image of her body, with different sections clickable. I was a bit disappointed that I never found myself back to that navigation point- it would have been interesting to get through story by navigating through her body. After that first click though, the story carried on through clicking on random links throughout the subsequent pages. It took a while before I finally ran out of links to click and the story was “done”. One thing I’ve noticed about early hypertext is it’s often hard to know when it’s the end. The reader chooses both the path and when to leave it, which can leave a sense of wandering instead of resolution. It also means that there isn’t a clear sense of a linear structure, or a beginning middle and end. You understand that many of the events happened when she was young, but specific timing is vague and unimportant.
Another thing I’ve found about early hypertext is that it takes time. It sometimes isn’t until links or pages begin to repeat that the story begins to fill out or become clear. I found the same to be true for this one, but I always felt drawn in because each page contained it’s own lexie or micro-story that felt complete on their own. As they built upon each other, they begin to take on a greater context- the sum of the parts, and all that. Because the story is a recounting of memories, the broken structure and the diary-like reading worked really well. I know when I’m “looking back” it’s often in snapshots like that, and rarely complete detail.
I think the most frustrating aspect of this story, for me, was the navigation. Although it was clear where to go and how to operate the story, there wasn’t anything to ground me so I felt kind of lost in it all. I didn’t know how much there was, if I was missing anything, where the end was, and I couldn’t even get back to the title screen. While I think that feeling could certainly lend itself to some stories, it didn’t seem to add the this one, and I found myself wishing for a bit more guidance.