The Babysitter

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“The Babysitter,” published in Pricksongs and Descants (1969), is a classic of postmodern fiction. The story consists of over one hundred fragments – paragraphs set off from each other by space breaks, that take us through multiple and divergent sequences of what might have or what could have occurred during the course of one evening between a babysitter, a baby, her boyfriend, and the mother and father of the house. Although chronological progression takes place in the story, as we move from 7:40 pm into the late hours of the night, the distinction between objective reality and fantasy falls away as we read the fragments, and every possibility has equal opportunity to be visited. “The Babysitter” is one of the best examples in print of the idea of multilinearity that digital hypertext seemed poised to exploit, a story that is not one progression of events, but many possible progressions of events branching from the same tree.

(Source: Electronic Literature by Scott Rettberg)

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Scott Rettberg