A review of
edited by Dennis Cooper
I wanted Userlands to be confusing and tedious, “overly digital but always disturbing and loud,” in the words of contributor Robert Siek, or emblematic of writing that accounts for technology’s conversion of humans into networked entities, our “very bloodstream a hybrid of zeros, ones, and hemoglobin,” as contributor Mike Kascel sees it. But, like most anthologies, Userlands is hit or miss.
Many of these stories are short, like exercises, and while even certain of the lackluster tales have moments of lively scene-writing or evocative turns of phrase, this collection is more about writing as an emotional release than writing for the sake of storytelling. Because of that, it is interesting for what it reveals about our relationship to words on screens, even when those words have been corralled on paper.
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