Paging all Wii engineers, please report to the virtual tea party

By Harriet Staff

Flavorwire's Chelsea Bauch talks to Rae Bryant, editor of the online magazine Milk Moon Review, about the future she envisions for literature if it could embrace the full potential of the digital landscape. Offering soundtracks with your journal? Gargoyle Magazine has been doing that for years. Access to free online content with a paid subscription? The New Yorker and plenty of others are already there. Contests, interactive visual poetry, community groups that connect readers and writers around the world? Dozens of places to turn. So what does Bryant think would really make a difference in the way that audiences engage with literature?

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d put a virtual reading system in every family room and offer interactive literature, art, music, along with the ability for the reader to put his or her body within the virtual landscape of the work. The reader would have the ability to pause the story and interact with the characters along the way or listen to an era-appropriate song, view related artwork and allusions to other works within the story, take pause so to familiarize him or herself with a new word or phrase, perhaps even meet a virtual representation of the author or poet. Imagine that you could listen to a reading of Alice in Wonderland while sitting at the virtual Tea Party. Sit in the boat with Santiago as he catches the big fish. Experience Woolf’s Orlando as the main character. Take the words from masters’ tongues as they speak them and swirl them on a blank canvas. How quickly would our children devour classic stories if they could literally be part of the story? Perhaps the Wii people can start working on this.