Thursday, February 21, 2008

Formal Blog #6 (Option #1)

There are many elements involved with Night of A Thousand Boyfriends that deserve attention, including its high interactivity, the correspondences between its content and its decision tree and its adult content.

First, the interactivity in this CYOA book far surpasses that of The Cup of Death that we previously read. The author, Miranda Clarke, makes it a point to make the reader get the full experience of being the main character of this book and actually feeling the words that are written on the page. The reader is no longer just reading what is happening to them, but he/she feels as though they are actually going through the motions and actions that the words describe. One example of how Clarke puts this high interactivity to work can be found on page 23, when the reader takes an Ecstasy pill and starts to feel its effects. After Chaz invites you to his hotel room across the street from the club, there are three choices that Clarke gives you at the bottom of the page. The three choices read, “If you go back to the hotel with Chaz, turn to page 112. If you follow Chaz back to the hotel, turn to page 112. If you and Chaz go back to the hotel together, turn to page 112.” At first glance the reader may be confused due to not understanding why the author would have wrote the same thing three times; basically leaving the reader with no decision at all. Clarke wants to make this scenario as real as possible and wants to make a few points. First she probably wanted to point out that the fact that your high on Ecstasy has your thinking and reasoning all jumbled up; she wants to make the reader a little confused to mimic the feeling that you would have if you were actually high on Ecstasy. Everything would be hazy and unclear in the club, just as it is not made clear to reader exactly why the author decides to write the choices in this manner. Most importantly, I think Clarke wanted the reader to feel as though they had no choice in order to convey a life lesson that when drugs are involved and this same scenario were to occur it would feel as though you had no choice but to go home with this complete stranger. She wants you to feel as though you really are at a club, high on Ecstasy and with your inhibitions lowered, are capable of actually agreeing to do almost anything.

Another example of this interactivity can be found on page 56, when you are listening to Marcy read her poetry. Clarke writes, “It’s funny—after awhile, all of Marcy’s poems start to sound the same. With the huge stack of notebooks at her feet, you realize you’ll be stuck here all night, listening to the same gloomy words over and over again.” After this statement the bottom of the page tells you to go back to page 34, which is the first poem that she read. Then you realize that this cycle has no end and that you will continue to go back and forth from the third poem back to first one again and again. Clarke forces you to actually read the words over and over again so that you are actually experiencing the same words over and over again. You are reading the same words over and over again, just as you hear Marcy saying the same words over and over again. This is one of the many correspondences in the content of this book and its decision tree, which has an arrow going from page 56 back to page 34, with no ending.

The ultimate and most interactivity that exists within the book can be found on page 106. Here, Clarke gets personal with you as she lashes out at you for make a very risky decision. She interrupts the story in order to talk directly to you, so it really catches you off guard and you can’t help but to feel her disappointment as if this is real life. She takes on the role of the friend or relative who would reprimand you if they found out that you made a dangerous decision like going to a hotel with a complete stranger. At the end of her rant, Clarke even says, “What would your mother think right now?” Even though this is a book and not real life you can’t help but to feel a little ashamed and embarrassed after she puts the image of your mom in your head.

The correspondences between the story’s content and its decision tree can be seen after taking a look at a few series of events. First, the reader can tell that the decision to stay home with Marcy and not go out doesn’t involve more than three decisions. Deciding to stay home with Marcy leads to two immediate endings and the cycle that involves the reading of the poetry, which can also be considered to be some sort of an ending or never-ending fate rather. This is reflected in the decision tree as the side of the tree that represents staying home is pretty bare of decisions compared to the maze of decisions on the other side. The reader can see that there were many decisions and possible events that could have occurred after choosing to go out for the night. Thus that decision branches out into many different ways, resulting in all kinds of wild endings. It’s also important to note that unlike the other CYOA this one had one path that allowed for you to end up back near the beginning. On page 24, your memory is wiped out by the Neptunians and you are sent back two hours before when you were first dressing to go out. On the decision tree, there is an arrow that takes you from the bottom of the tree all the way back up to the top, to start the descending process all over again. It is also possible to make different decisions, but be led to the same event and/or ending. On the decision tree there are multiple arrows that link two different decisions or two very different paths to the same event. For example, you can end up stranded in the hospital on page 108 from both passing out on the dance floor at the club (p.11) and from being knocked out and mugged at an ATM machine(p.87).

Lastly, the in-your face adult content of this book is what I take to be Clarke’s blunt way of conveying reality to the reader. It goes back to her goal of wanting the reader to feel and experience every scenario in this book as if it were real life. She wanted to hit you over the head with events that shape people’s lives everyday. Many people some of the decisions presented in this book everyday, even though it may seem far fetched, and the irony here is that she presents it in a fictional book.


Adam Johns said...

Here's the great advantage of requiring the blogs to be done before an evening class: it makes sure that everyone (almost) does the reading well in advance, and it gives us all something to talk about, as well as, presumably, some forewarning about what other people are thinking.

Of course, that can backfire, at least from my point of view. Why? Because I can end up with a student who says everything about a text _I_ was intending to say, and then I have a dilemma. Do I go ahead and say it all, and look like I'm cribbing from your blog entry? Or do I say something else.

Anyway, I exaggerate. This was a very nice discussion, from beginning to end, of some of the standout ways in which form & content relate in Clarke's book. Your discussion was so thorough, in fact, I think you could have benefited mainly from trimming some topic in order to have a more developed introduction & conclusion.

Sean Dolinar said...

Good job, I think you summed up everything I noticed about the book.

While the decisions in the book might be more realistic than Cup of Death (Since everyone goes on dates), I thought the hostage situation and aliens were kind of overkill and obviously unrealistic.