“She says they’re precious because they’re casual and meaningless.”
The plot of ‘Great Rock N’ Roll Pauses’ unfolds through the slight interactions and dynamics of a family, as portrayed through diagrammatic slides. This is the most immediate quality of the story- the sequence and meaning of each diagram within the slide isn’t always immediately intuitive, and often provokes rereads. While each text item or symbol is linked, you often have to process the connection yourself, as opposed to a medium like the novel, where the content is instantly sequential. The elements of plot reveal themselves through analysis and connection of phrases and character in each diagram.
The main instance of conflict in the story comes from Lincoln’s fixation with pauses in songs- an obsession that his father fails to connect or interact with. There are other conflicts, like the mother’s past and art, and the relationships between each of those in the family, though the thread of Lincoln’s fixation remains the core.
The conflict is resolved when Alison, the daughter, goes on a walk in the desert with her dad after he shouts at Lincoln. The two discuss how the father can improve; The thematic conflict of the passage of time and existential fears is also resolved by the end of the walk, as Alison dreads that her own home and family won’t be waiting for her by the time they arrive (an unfounded fear, which leads to an understated and comforting ending).
The character’s changes are internal, and are often revealed through Allison’s interpretations of their behavior: She assigns meaning to dialogue, action, and geography, in a method enhanced by the visual layout of each diagram. This all prompted my own thinking on how to structure a diagrammatic story- I really enjoy how the author trusts the reader to dissect the writing. There is a threshold of engagement that I find rewarding and would love to replicate.
[ I’m not sure if it would fall under diagrammatic storytelling, but this kind of reminded me of ‘What Football Will Look Like in the Future,’ which is a really cool online narrative you should check out! ]