How can reading be “cafeteria style?’ Well, consider this. My novel MAGS at THE GENIUS HOUSE has a subtitle: “A Composite Novel.” In fact, all my novels have the same subtitle: “A Composite Novel.” Here’s the reason why.
One big advantage to a reader of a composite novel is being able to dip in and out of the book at will. And that’s because each “chapter” in a composite novel has its own title and its own narrative arc.
That said, of course, any novel as a whole-text has a single narrative arc. But the important thing is this: the composite novel has both—an over-arching narrative arc as well as many, individual ones within that over-arching story. So, if you want to put a book down and pick it up later and easily find the place where you left off, the composite novel’s for you. You can pick and choose how and what you read–cafeteria style. And THAT’S because every composite novel is more than the sum of its parts.
Or, As Margaret Atwood so memorably said, “A fist is more than the sum of five fingers.”