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Literary Twitter

October 15th, 2009 by Chris Strauber

Twitter logo
One of the conventional responses to Twitter is puzzlement. It’s in the news all the time now, influencing revolutions and political coverage and celebrity news. And, despite having had it explained to me several times it made no sense to me as a concept until I realized that it’s not actually a service or a social network, it’s a new form of publication that you can do almost anything with. With that in mind, here are two literary uses for Twitter: one recent, one which I’ve been following for a while.

Collaborative Publishing

Neil Gaiman and the BBC are collaboratively writing an audiobook using Twitter (via Found History). Gaiman wrote the first line on October 13th, and Twitter users are writing the rest, one line at a time. When they get to about a thousand tweets, it will become a script for a BBC audio recording. Description from BBC Audiobooks America.
Here’s the thing: it’s actually not bad. It’s a fairy tale/sci fi/fantasy story about a princess with a missing heart, and it’s also more or less in Gaiman’s style. If you follow the Twitter stream, the story runs in reverse chronological order, i.e., with the most recent thing on top. There are also periodic links to summaries of the story so far.
(Covered in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal)

Dark Epigrams

For about a year the New York Review of Books has been posting a series of very short pieces Félix Fénéon wrote for Le Matin in 1906, from their published edition, called Novels in Three Lines. I found out about this through one of my favorite book blogs, If: book (run by the Institute for the Future of the Book). Their coverage here. Fénéon’s style falls somewhere between epigram, Zen painting, and News of the Weird. Here’s the post which got me to start reading:
“In a café on Rue Fontaine, Vautour, Lenoir, and Atanis exchanged a few bullets regarding their wives, who were not present.” (novelsin3lines)

Tisch on Twitter

You can follow TischLibrary on Twitter. The library Twitter account is something we just started doing: at the moment it’s mostly news, and the occasional answer to a Frequently Asked Question. It’s moderated at the moment by the excellent Alex May with help from the Tisch Web Services team, of which group yours truly is a member.

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