"Endless Suburbs" by M.D. Coverley
But to me, it somehow suggested the replication of objects in a nearly infinite manner -- a duplicating machine -- churning out objects like cars, like houses, like Southern California. -M. D. Coverley, narrabase.net
About the work
Endless Suburbs by M. D. Coverley is inspired largely by the software that it was created in. By utilizing a collection of online java applets, the work is reminiscent of a book with duplicate pages. M. D. Coverley believed that this sense of repetition brought to mind a machine creating identical products in a never-ending assembly line. Deciding on this theme, she created a list of single-paragraph stories about generic American ideals, such as owning a nice car, finding love, buying a house, and working full-time. But as the stories go on, america quickly falls into chaos: “Everybody is working full-time to support twelve cars and 10,000 square feet of living space. No one can drive anywhere because of traffic.”
When a user enters the site, they are shown an image of a family and a car accompanied by the words “You want one of each. So we make a lot.” They are then presented with the title and author of the work, along with a gif of cars being printed like pages of a book. Beside the image is a link that reads “Is something going wrong with this machine? Just push a button.” This is foreshadowing the next screen, which places story titles on the left and short paragraphs on the right. When read together, the titles themselves tell the story of malfunctioning equipment, and increasing panic as the machine continues to produce despite attempts to shut it off. Images of a car accompany each of these titles, which are gradually altered until the car eventually explodes. The stories on the right also become more chaotic over time, which detail the lives of various people thriving and struggling in america.
About the Author
M. D. Coverley is the pen name of Marjorie Luesebrink. As a hypermedia fiction author, she is most famous for her works Califia and Egypt: The Book of Going Forth by Day. Though she initially published short stories and articles in print, she started working with computers in the early 1980s and began writing for in-hand media and the WWW in 1995. Her work has been published in BeeHive, The Blue Moon Review, Riding the Meridian, The Iowa Review Web, frAme, and Salt Hill, among other places. At present, she is a member of the board of directors of the Electronic Literature Organization.
This is the first page presented to users when entering the site. It is an image of a family getting into a car, accompanied by the words "You make one of each. So we make a lot."
This is the interface for the main portion of the work. Stories can be selected on the left and displayed on the right.
This is a screenshot of the first story in the list. The stories become more chaotic as the user reads on.
This is a screenshot of one of the more chaotic stories.
Links to the work
"Endless Suburbs" has been recorded in Rhizome's webrecorder. Additionally, it has been crawled by the Wayback Machine. A link to Coverley's plate in The Progressive Dinner Party is also provided below.
View "Endless Suburbs" by M.D. Coverley in the Webrecorder
View the web archive link
Coverley, M.D. “About.” Califia.us. 1999, https://califia.us/about.htm. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“Marjorie Luesebrink”. Wikipedia. Last edited 15 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjorie_Luesebrink. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“M.D. Coverley.” dtc-wsuv.org. http://dtc-wsuv.org/elit/elo2012/elo2012/Coverley.html. Accessed 6 July 2019.
“M. D. Coverley: Tin Towns and other Excel Fictions”. Narrabase.net. http://www.narrabase.net/coverley_tin_towns.html. Accessed 6 July 2019.