m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Boring Books

I mentioned Rudolf Kerkhoven’s boring book duology quite a while ago, but didn’t read them until I got another free Kindle Unlimited subscription recently. Unlike his less boring choice fiction, both books are written in the traditional second person. Like the others, however, they star a very specific character, the most boring character ever written. Despite an allegedly exciting youth, you are now full of meaningless platitudes, trite observations, and paranoid attention to minutiae. You can even choose to watch paint dry.

While the stories themselves are so boring they’re funny, the main interest of the books lie in you-the-reader’s accumulation of clues and knowledge that blow right over the head of you-the-character.

The first book, The Most Boring Book Ever Written, features the shortest how-to-CYOA instructions I’ve ever seen:

Use the BACK button to retrace your steps.
Ann is your wife.
Emma is your daughter.
That is it.

The first line is omitted in the print edition. There, choices are of the form “Turn to page n if you blah blah blah…”, which is replaced by “Click here if you blah blah blah…” in the ebook links. For the second book, The Most Boring Christmas Special Ever Written, a bit of a bio and a second child are added to the instructions.

Structurally, the first book is a standard CYOA with fairly short passages, though with somewhat excessive railroading through spurious choices which fits the boring book theme. The only exception is a very long passage that is (upon reflection and reading through the other endings) the victory path. Endings link back to the instructions in the ebook.

The second book doubles down on the boring theme and the absurdly long passage theme by including only one choice, between two absurdly long endings. Both endings link back to the start of the opening passage in the ebook.