What's a novel doing on Slate?

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March 8 2006 6:43 AM

The Unbinding

A new serial novel from Slate.

On Monday, March 13, Slate will launch an exciting new publishing venture: an online novel written in real time, by award-winning novelist Walter Kirn. Installments of the novel, titled The Unbinding, will appear in Slate roughly twice a week from March through June. While novels have been serialized in mainstream online publications before, this is the first time a prominent novelist has published a genuine Net Novel—one that takes advantage of, and draws inspiration from, the capacities of the Internet. The Unbinding,a dark comedy set in the near future, is a compilation of "found documents"—online diary entries, e-mails, surveillance reports, etc. It will make use of the Internet's unique capacity to respond to events as they happen, linking to documents and other Web sites. In other words, The Unbinding is conceived for the Web, rather than adapted to it.

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Its publication also marks the debut of Slate's fiction section. Over the past decade, there has been much discussion of the lack of literature being written on the Web. When Stephen King experimented with the medium in the year 2000, publishing a novel online called The Plant,readers were hampered by dial-up access. But the prevalence of broadband and increasing comfort with online reading makes the publication of a novel like The Unbinding possible.

Walter Kirn is a highly regarded novelist and magazine writer. He has written four previous books, including Thumbsucker, which became a 2005 film starring Vince Vaughn and Keanu Reeves, and Mission to America, published last year to great acclaim. He is a contributing editor to Time and GQ and a regular critic for the New York Times Book Review. Portions of his previous novels have been excerpted in The New Yorker, GQ, and Esquire.

We hope you enjoy The Unbinding.

—Meghan O'Rourke