Wow! What a read. I absolutely adored both Great Rock n’Roll Pauses and Diagrammatic Writing. They really tickled my brain in unique and almost thrilling ways.
The plot of Great Rock n’Roll Pauses centers around the narrator’s family. It indicates the struggles they go through in a diagrammatic fashion. We see the Blake family through Allison’s eyes. She tells us of her older brother Lincoln’s fascination with pauses in older rock songs, of her father’s absences and gin and tonic crutch, and her mother’s attempts to bridge relational gaps while being in them herself. The conflict in this story comes from these relational gaps, which everyone struggles with sometimes, adding an interesting spark of relatability for many readers, most likely. It appears that the solution to this conflict is simply time, and allowing Allison’s self to realize how much she truly loves her family.
Allison, being our narrator and audience surrogate, is the character we can see most explicitly change throughout the story. She begins as what seems to mostly just be a 12 year old girl. There isn’t much to grasp at the beginning, save for her observations. But as one clicks through Great Rock n’Roll Pauses, the layers are peeled back on not only Allison but her whole family. She transforms from just an observant kid into our protagonist, surrounded by family strife and relational gaps. The pictures of each family member come more into a crisp focus, with more and more becoming implicitly revealed. The dad is shown to care about his family, but struggles with drinking and anger issues. We see him struggle to connect with Lincoln, but take a walk with Allison to come down. We see the mom attempt to mediate and focus on her art to avoid focusing on her familial troubles. We see Lincoln really focus on his rock pauses, to the point of connecting with little else.
The diagrammatic nature of the storytelling allows us to experience these revelations of character at a slow pace, and to feel them in a swirling vortex of time and plot. I know that second part may not make sense, so let me explain. Because of the nature of diagrammatic storytelling, as shown in the first reading, we can experience several things at the same time, unlike traditionally linear stories. We can see several characters at the same time, doing different things. Because of the layout of many slides, we can see different plot points or bits of history within the same breath. For instance, on slide 32, titled Mom’s “Art”, we simultaneously get glimpses of why Allison’s mom makes art (the bronze colored text boxes) and snippets of daily life for the Blakes. I believe that this story was masterfully told, and made for a wholly unique way of being told.