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October 19, 2002

Posted by Teresa at 12:10 PM *

I don’t know Paul Ford, but he’s good. His website, Ftrain, is, he says, “a collection of interlinked pages, with text, graphics, and links to other digitally encoded media objects.” This is accurate, if somewhat inadequate. His content—essays, bits of fiction, commonplaces, pictures, language engines, Other—is divided into a series of immaculately detailed little modules, full of surprises and payoffs, that left me feeling the way I did the first time I wandered around in Myst.

Here’s a bit from a piece called Chinatown:

The crowded Fung Wah bus lets me off on Canal St. The boy behind me on the train was chattering into a cell phone about Ibiza for the entire trip. It is raining hard, cold, but the streets are crowded, solid with umbrellas, people, food, and noise. I have a backpack, and I walk through the crowded streets, aiming for the East Broadway station, but willing to be diverted by dumplings, caught between bags of garbage and stalls selling ginger root, scallions, and obscure ocean fauna.

“Sir! This is the luckiest cat ever!” shouts a man. He is in his 40s, thin, a weedy moustache, a suit. He chases me, smoking a cigarette, cradling a small ceramic kitten with its paws up. Big and tall, I am always a target for hawkers. I shake my head. “Sir! The luckiness of this cat cannot be overstated. The cost of such luck is minimal—”

“No,” I say.

“You need the luckiness of this cat,” he says.

Comments on Ftrain:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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