The E-Mail Novel

I really enjoyed reading "Kind of Blue." I thought the story itself was compelling and it was nice to have the reading broken up into little pieces (e-mails). E-mail is an interesting platform for a novel because it is virtually all dialogue. We only know what the characters themselves know (either they have written the e-mails or they have received them). Granted, we have acess to the e-mail boxes of many characters, so we have slightly more information, but all of the information we're reading was read by at least two characters. Nothing in the "novel" is a thought or the author's explanation of something. Somehow it feels more real to me because of this.

However, a lot of the wrriting in the e-mails was abstract. There were e-mails filled with just poetry and e-mails written in weird thought-like pattern. I send a lot of weird e-mails, but I thought he was really stretching the limits of what would actually be written in an e-mail.

The other problem (or maybe not) is that e-mail is such a small part of any relationship between two people. On some level, it's interesting to look at these relationships through such a focused lens. On the other hand, the novel makes it seem like the relationships with these people are largely through e-mail (which the story confirms). I believe that these specific characters communicate mostly through e-mail, but only because the story tells me this. This means that the author had to make his characters e-mail based, which is limiting in my point of view.

how did you read kind of blue? obviously it allows you to read it thousands of different ways, but i still felt compelled to read it from beginning to end. for a while, i read the full text of every e-mail, which i found satisfying, but when i realized how many e-mails there were, i started skimming them. maybe i'll go back and read what i missed. anyway, i imagine that you probably read it front to back also. i'm interested to hear from anyone who read in a different order.

i started off reading kind of blue from the beginning, then decided to pretend the thing was my own email box. i suppose the problem with that is that it's not exactly one person's mailbox so you don't know who each message is to before you open it, but it worked for me. i decided which messages i wanted to open by looking at who they were from and what the subject line was. being the most juicy storyline, i was most interested in the susanne/skip/regina love triangle murder mystery, so i tended to avoid emails from fred and others which were probably more thought provoking but less immediately interesting. much like i would read my own emailbox... open the things that catch my eye

The arrows at the bottom are pretty suggestive though. Go forward or go back. The easiest paths would be to start at the beginning and hit the forward arrow, or start at the end and hit the back arrow. Also, e-mail inboxes are usually organized (by their user) with the most recent up top (though they can be changed in a click into a number of categories) and I think he should've organized the novel in that fashion.

"Nothing in the "novel" is a thought or the author's explanation of something. Somehow it feels more real to me because of this."

I think that "Kind of Blue" did this kind of work in a few interesting ways. I don't believe that these were subtle/skillful enough that it felt like the author wasn't explaining a lot.

1) Unanswered emails to berto that are really just outpourings of thoughts designed to fill us in on relationships and plot holes.

2) Simon's long explanations that lay bare and synthesize all the blue cultural references and seek to explain the thematic aesthetic of the email novel.

3) An unrealistic tendency for characters, especially Skip, to describe what they have just done in such a way that we don't miss out on any action.

I agree with that assessment. I enjoyed the story, but found it very facile. This definitely had to do with, what at times, were hokey methods of explaining plot.

They were almost no moments where I stopped and asked myself, "hey what just happened?" Most of the meaning was ready made for consumption.

Even the open-ended ending, really wasn't open ended, it was more "here's the story I wrote but you can make your own."

I think I might of liked it more if the Sue pieces were more complex and suggesting, with contradictory, and ulterior explanations.

But those are my preferences for reading. Simon and Jack's emails did a good job of providing near-theoretical context, but really had nothing to do with the otherwise dialectic plot-line. And I think he raised enough questions with the structure and plot itself that they were at times redundant.

I don't mean to be too critical though I like what he did with the story, and it will probably influence my term project significantly.