Animals Are Placebos

"Our interest, as we conceived of this issue, was in good writing. The issue for many of us with an interest in digital writing is that for all the fancy graphics and intriguing interface, the writing must, as always, pull its weight. The fanciest digital song-and-dance of a story is, at its heart, a story made new, presented in a new, reader-centered context. We believe — perhaps foolishly — that good writing is almost impossible to make un-good. We also believe — again, perhaps foolishly — that bad writing is almost impossible to make good, regardless of whatever bells and whistles eventually are added (as distraction, as emphasis, as whatever).

And so, when we started this issue, we thought: let’s talk with some writers we enjoy and see if they’d be willing to offer work that’d get re-imagined and digitized by digital artists. It was, we thought, a great idea. What we realized, however, is that to think of digital writing as two interlocking pieces — writing on the one hand, digital magic on the other — is, well, off. Finding writers willing to have their work reimagined was relatively easy: finding digital artists with the time and energy and ability to take good writing and find new ways to present it was much, much more difficult.

The only piece that made it is Jennifer Smith’s presentation of Caren Beilin’s 'Animals Are Placebos'. Both Jennifer and Caren are students — at VCU [Virginia Commonwealth University] and the University of Montana, Missoula, respectively — and though they don’t know each other, Jennifer’s original and clever digitizing of Caren’s spare, strange language seems well-matched. In an Alice In Wonderland sort of move, the reader chooses his or her pill and the story moves according to the reader’s decisions." -- From The New River Journal, Spring 2008


The New River

An unpublished copy.

Amanda Hodes transferred the files for this copy to Dene Grigar in June 2022.