Armchair BEA: Visual Expressions – The Multimedia Novel

Armchair BEA
Image: Amber Ostheimer


“On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just words and use other ways to experience a story.”

My all-time favorite non-traditional form of storytelling is the multimedia novel.  Why?  Because reading a multimedia novel, like S. by Doug Dorst & J.J. Abrams, is like finding you have something in common with a stranger as you read their marginalia in a book found at the used bookstore.  It’s like coming across some lost and forgotten trunk of an ancestor in the attic or basement and discovering that the story of their life, or maybe just a defining part of it, is contained within.  It’s like snooping and getting a peek into someone else’s life without taking the dishonest and unethical route of digging through another person’s things.

There’s also the hair-raising factor of stories like The Silent History by Eli HorowitzNight Film by Marisha Pessl, and The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.  If you’re looking for something creepy, horrific, or thrilling, any one of these multimedia novels will the do the trick in ways that traditional books can’t.  They somehow feel more real, as if the stories actually happened, and you get the spine-tingling feeling that maybe you shouldn’t be reading it; it’s a secret you’ve stumbled upon and continuing could mean finding yourself involved in something that has dire consequences.  However, you can’t stop.  You must know what happened.  Afterward, you’ll always wonder if maybe the story wasn’t just a story after all.  Maybe it really happened.