The Unknown: The Red Line.
In June, 1998, Thomas Pynchon’s opening epigram in the hypertext novel The Unknown resounded like a rifle-shot from computers across the world and announced a literary revolution. The Unknown had redefined the lyric parameters of popular literature, demonstrating that the seemingly cold hypertext idiom could express the most sophisticated and ambiguous emotions. But this was something else—this was a rock record. It was not a two-minute-and-thirteen second rock and roll single, it wasn’t about dancing or driving or teenage love lost and found. This was an electric epic, simple in its sentence structure but remarkably complex and ambitious in its scope. Its length, subject matter, and medium were totally at odds with what constitutes a hit single.

First, it clocked in at a gargantuan five hundred pages, easily twice as long as a readable hypertext novel was meant to be. It was also lyrically daunting, defying all attempts to fix its precise storyline, yet arresting in its coupling of a childish malevolence with a sense of pain and disillusionment far more adult than anything normally read on a website.

—Fred Goodman, from The Hotel on the Hill: Gillespie, Rettberg, Stratton, and the Head-on Collision of Literature and Commerce

Prior to visiting old friends at Brown University, we opened for the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Gardens. We found out a secret: Keith Richards is dead. For their studio recordings, they use Adrian Belew, not to be confused with Jeff Ballowe, the Internet visionary. For stage performances, Richard's stand-in is Iggy Pop in wig and sequined vest. There is still heroin in their dressing room, or so it seems to the casual observer. The secret is that it’s really baby laxative these days, meant to impress the press. It does however, keep the guys regular when they are on tour, without the nasty problems that the real thing might cause.

Being on stage in front of a thousand people in their late forties and fifties had been nice.

“We’re putting the text back into hypertext,” Scott offered. “You know how Pete Townsend has a wall of guitars? Well William here has a wall of typewriters.”


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The Unknown at Spineless Books.