A century in the life of a small American house, told in brief sentences and remixable words.
The top third of the screen of this app has three parts. One is a floor plan of the house at 18 Cadence, with a modest porch, living room, kitchen and two bedrooms. Second is a sentence-long description of a person in one of those rooms. Third is a list of objects in the room. Reed means to show how the American home has changed over time, and despite the concision of its narrative—often just one sentence and a few stray details—the story acquires an emotional resonance. In the early 1920s, the home is occupied by three sisters, one tormented by her homosexuality. In the ’30s and ’40s, a family moves in with three boys who head off to fight in World War II. By the ’80s and ’90s, the decrepit building has become off-campus housing and ultimately a drug den. The objects in the rooms change, from Sears catalogs to portraits to bongs, but the app allows readers to scrapbook while reading. Every word on the top third of the screen can be moved to a “workbench” and manipulated in various ways—stacked to make found poetry, combined to make longer sentences and cut back up again (a razor-knife tool helps with the cutting). Options are limited: Readers can’t, for instance, combine fragments from different rooms or different years into one sentence. But the effect of seeing words accrue on the workbench separately is surprisingly affecting. The books and utensils acquire a kind of personality unique to the time they were used; the military medals of one resident are as totemic as the Pink Floyd poster of another.
Despite a bare-bones narrative, an intriguing and even absorbing exploration of the power of objects across time.