I was trying to figure out what to do for this website [for I Was Told There’d Be Cake] to make it a little more fun. I knew it had to be tied to the book, but the book is lacking in references to music videos or pyrotechnics or home shopping network references…or other such website-friendly content. I tried to think simple. I flipped through the pages with the website in mind. How could I cram the book back into the computer, short of feeding the pages in through the cd drive? Then I spotted this, from the essay “Christmas in July”:
“In third grade I had to make a diorama about the Inuit. I showed up to school with a Plexiglas case that housed an igloo made from nail-filed sugar cubes and a battery-powered fan that created dry ice. It was difficult to claim I had created a functioning arctic biosphere on my own, given that long division was a struggle.”
Plexiglas! Yes! It was like The Graduate redux. I could turn my essays into three-dimensional dioramas and at least attempt to make them as detailed as the ones I used to make with my dad. So I picked three essays—“Sign Language for Infields,” “Smell This,” and “The Pony Problem.” I figured they were the most visual and that they would lend themselves the best toward diorama production.
The Plexiglas, divided into compartments, would replicate the experience of reading the essays. Since the essay paragraphs (hopefully) flow into each other, the dioramas are set up so that you can see the next scene while looking at the previous one. And when you’re done examining each compartment, you can look at the whole thing at one time.
This also would enable me to put photos in the background of each scene, behind the glass. This way, if the dioramas turned out horribly, the photo on the back walls could still hint at what the dioramas were meant to be.