Serialistion suddenly feels fresh again

In a world of almost-instant downloads, having to wait to get to the end of something feels novel

Share
Related Topics

Looking for something interesting to read (once you’ve finished your copy of i, of course)?

I could point you in the direction of two great, and very different pieces of writing.

Both are from the US, both appeared in venerable New York publications, and I read both of them online. The first was an epic of reporting, interwoven with photography and interactive graphics. Called “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, it ran to thousands of words and took a single disaster - an avalanche in a backwoods skiing resort - and examined it, and its victims, from every angle. Written by the New York Times reporter John Branch, it was fascinating, and the months he spent on the story were evident in every detailed paragraph and heart-breaking interview.

My second recommended read, you might be pleased to hear, is bigger on laughs. The humorous novella “Sell Out” appeared on the New Yorker’s website last week and took aim at Brooklyn hipsters, American ambition and told the story of a pickle-maker from the 1900s suddenly having to make his way in a new New York. Its author is Simon Rich, a 27-year-old former Saturday Night Live writer (funny AND young. There’s a guy that it would be easy to hate if he didn’t write so beautifully).

Unfortunately, the one thing that these stories had in common apart from being really, really great, is the one thing that anyone coming to them now will miss. Both were serialised, making reading them an exercise in anticipation. Of course, you can still read them: here and here, but in a world of almost-instant downloads, having to wait to get to the end of something feels novel. Instead of gorging on Rich’s novella, say, then immediately heading to the Kindle store to download his other books, my usual style when it comes to a writer I’ve just discovered, I patiently wait a day between the four installments. The same thing was the case with “Snow Fall”. It wasn’t just that I really wanted to know what happened next as the story drew me towards the fatal events at Tunnel Creek, I wanted to see how Branch had done it. I didn’t go online to read the news stories about the incident, I waited to see how he unfolded it.

I know that serialistion isn’t exactly the latest innovation in writing (Dickens, anyone?) but for a way of publishing that’s more than a century old, it suddenly feels fresh. Amazon agrees - towards the end of last year it announced plans to publish a series of novels for Kindle in installments. So much as it’s quick and easy to smash and grab our way through books and articles, I recommended waiting and anticipating every now and then.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions