Haunting (Narrative) Architecture: The Internet in Skeleton Creek

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Since digital technology began to saturate every part of society, critics have been trying to come to terms with how it has affected our culture, not least literary texts. Young adult fiction was an early responder to digital technology. Internet novels such as ttyl (2005) by Lauren Myracle, Click Here: To Find out How I Survived Seventh Grade (2006) by Denise Vega, and Tweet Heart (2010) by Elizabeth Rudnick revolve around Internet culture thematically as well as structurally: the layout of the codex often resemble chatrooms, emails, or blog posts. 

This paper focuses on a particularly interesting YA novel, Skeleton Creek (2009) by Patrick Carman (the first book in a series of five). The novel tells a story of a friendship between a boy, Ryan, and a girl, Sarah as they together try to unravel the mystery of a haunted house. Compositionally, the novel combines a codex that mimics a diary with Internet-based videos. The critical attention to the novel has mainly appeared in the field of library and educational sciences, as tends to be the case with much of YA literary scholarship (Caroline Hunt 1996). While this vantage point is useful, author believes that closer attention to Skeleton Creek as an aesthetic object and a consideration of its elaborate composition is necessary to come to terms with what to call such fiction and how to understand it. 

Skeleton Creek has been called a vook (Groenke, et al. 2011), a transmedia text (Mcdonald & Parker 2013), or described as “gamified” fiction (Martens 2014). None of these categories, author argues, suffices to describe the complex architecture of the work. Focusing on the novel as a complex aesthetic work (rather than, as most critics do, a text useful for the pedagogic goal of encouraging young people to read), author explores the intricate interplay between the codex and the digital that Skeleton Creek stages. Of particular significance are the moments that eject the reader from the codex and send him or her to the Internet.  Author proposes the metaphor of “haunting” to describe the codex/Internet nodes on which the architecture of Skeleton Creek relies. While many have portrayed Skeleton Creek as an unproblematic coming-together of text and video, some readers sense the innate tension the novel creates. Argument of author is that the architecture of the narrative is constructed on the tensions between rupture and convergence.

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Jana Jankovska