Virtual Reality: Gawking at Writers in Unnatural Habitats


Georges Simenon could write a novel in 11 days; according to a since debunked legend, he once finished an entire book in a day, enclosed David Blaine–like in a clear room while the public watched. Beginning May 7, Flux Factory’s “living installation”
Novel puts three authors—Grant Bailie, Ranbir Sidhu, and former Voicean Laurie Stone—in three different enclosed environments for 30 days. Visitors can watch them scribble or stew from 3 to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from noon to 4 p.m. on weekends. On June 4, the writers come out of the chrysalis having completed a brand-new novel. (Then they’re welcome to participate in
my installation, which is a five-year artwork called Revision.) Designed by a team of architect-artists and guest curated by
Bee Season author Myla Goldberg, Novel features weekly Saturday-evening readings of the works in progress. A May 15 panel discussion (featuring Goldberg and journalist-fictioneer Tom Bissell) and a May 22 forum with the space designers will further elaborate the issues involved: creativity, solitude, concentration, how to go to the bathroom. Here’s hoping the author-subjects can stick to their stories: Didn’t Pascal posit that all human misery comes from the inability of man to sit still in a room?