Review of “First Draft of the Revolution”
The way this work is meant to be read is that it isn’t. Or rather, it is meant to be interacted with more than actually reading. The reader goes into the piece thinking it’s a typical story of a woman writing letters to her husband far off elsewhere… until the reader gets choices to twist the letter about in various forms and varieties, ranging from pathetic to bold to neutral choices. The author uses these choices to keep the reader’s both engaged and wary of the choices they make. These choices give a surprising amount of characterization to these characters we don’t see or hear much of, and one can easily tell how they interact with each other throughout the story and the roles they have in their established societies. It’s a subtle, but brilliant form of a storytelling. You can see that Henri is a jealous and impatient man or that Juliette is a woman full of anxieties and wants nothing more than to please her husband but depending on the selections made Juliette can become more and more irritated with him.
There’s also an uncanny magical element in the mix as well. Henri, Juliette’s husband, is a magical man after all, and the way the words move, shift, or erased seems indicative of this fact. This is especially true for when Henri decrypts the friar’s message on page 16, when Henri translates a very troubling message about the friar potentially “using” Juliette for a nefarious deed… but Henri’s emotions do not allow for the translation to be fully realized, and he expunges it from the draft. He gets more and more desperate the further along he goes, and Juliette becomes increasingly agitated, stating “I have learned not to place my all my faith and obedience in a man”. This is shown too with her end statements no longer ending with “Your obedient wife” after a certain point.
The way this particular story is set up could never be translated into print. Not only would you need to have a system in place to write and rewrite the “right” or “wrong” choices, but there would need to be a way to take out whole phrases or paragraphs or translate certain dialect. And even if there was way to do all of this, the magic of the work would be lost, literally and figuratively.