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Choose Your Own Age

The New Yorker gives a selective history of the Choose Your Own Adventure series(es) titled “The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books.” New to me were some details of Edward Packard’s and Ray Montgomery’s lives and publishing histories. The intrinsic choppiness of this history is somewhat masked by a series of pseudo-choices permitting you to jump ahead to more interesting sections. Yet these are not linked (online), and the intent is clearly for the reader to barrel right through the article to the single ending.

There’s usually a howler or three in these CYOA retrospectives, and this article did not disappoint:

Choose books invited kids to exercise some agency, as they rattled around in these cages of limited possibility: millions of seven-year-olds who would someday become thirty-five-year-olds remembering with an aching nostalgia this early sense of freedom; this faith that, after every death, there would always be a do-over.

Twenty-eight years ago when any such aching fan was seven, the year was 1994 and, as the article’s author later admits, “[t]he books were languishing, and in 1999 the series was discontinued.” Yet the author opens the story in the late 80’s, much closer to the peak of choosing your own adventure. Is she in denial of her actual age and generation (X vs. Millennial), or just bad at math? In the latter case, she may want to bone up on her algebra with ChooseCo’s forthcoming The Dregg Disaster.