Posts tagged ‘fiction’

May 26, 2012

Jennifer Egan Using Twitter to Pen “Black Box”

Jennifer Egan is mixing it up in the literary world by tweeting a short story on Twitter. The story, Black Box, is a thriller set in the future. Egan is tweeting the short story in ten nightly installments from 8 to 9 P.M. E.T. via the New Yorker’s Fiction Twitter account – @NYerFiction. About her decision to tweet a story, Egan told the New Yorker:

“I’d also been wondering about how to write fiction whose structure would lend itself to serialization on Twitter. This is not a new idea, of course, but it’s a rich one-because of the intimacy of reaching people through their phones, and because of the odd poetry that can happen in a hundred and forty characters. I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea.” 

Egan isn’t the first to delve into this sort of experiment. Neil Gaiman and Melvin Burgess have also written fiction on Twitter in the past. The idea is reminiscent of serialized radio shows before there was TV. Reading a story on Twitter must be like having a TV show to read on your phone. It’s definitely an intriguing idea and I imagine could become a trend in the future. I’m not sure exactly how it will feel to read anything in real time on my phone. I guess I’d better finally open a damned Twitter account to find out.

If you’ve missed Egan’s tweets and want to catch up on the story or you’re just not a tweeter, you can read what she’s penned so far here.

Jennifer Egan is all atwitter

May 22, 2012

Magic 8 Ball of Literary Wisdom

Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by Confusion? (thanks, E. Jean). If so, Short List has a great post titled 50 peices of Wisdom from Novelswhich may offer insight into the big questions. You can mine the list for some real gems like this line from The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler:

“There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”

And this one from Invisible Monsters by Chuck Pahlaniuk:

“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”

This one from Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin is a great tip:

“The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn’t one.”

And probably my favorite is from To Kill a Mockingbird:

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

The post like a magic 8 ball that you can click on instead of shake.  Check it out here.
April 17, 2012

No Fiction Pulitzer for You!

For the first time in 35 years, there was no Pulitzer Price awarded in the fiction category. The Pulitzer fiction board, made up of jurors Susan Larson (former editor of The Times-Picayune), Maureen Corrigan (book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air), and novelist Michael Cunningham who won the 1999 Pulitzer for The Hours couldn’t reach the necessary consensus  to award a winner to one of the three fiction finalists.

The three finalists were Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russel.

In an email that she wrote the Associate Press (AP), 1992 Pulitzer Prize fiction winner, Jane Smiley, wrote:

“I can’t believe there wasn’t a worthy one. It’s a shame. But sometimes a selection committee really cannot agree, and giving no award is the outcome. Too bad.”

While I don’t know the logistics behind choosing a book for the prize, I can imagine it must feel like a slap in the face to the finalists (except Foster Wallace who is deceased) or to anyone who wrote a noteworthy novel in 2011. What gives?

February 12, 2012

Steffie Can’t Come out to Play Because She’s Hooking on a Street Corner

I posted a while back that, after years of searching, I found a book I loved as a kid. The book is called Steffie Can’t Come out to Play by Fran Arrick. It’s about a fourteen-year-old girl who runs away from the doldrums of her life in small-town Pennsylvania and winds up in NYC hooking for a smooth-talking pimp named “Favor”. As a kid I was completely engrossed and felt Steffie’s plight. (Who doesn’t want to run away at some point when they’re a tween?)

I’m reading the book now, and as an adult, it reads much differently than it did when I was twelve. It’s kind of disgusting. The girl is fourteen and the things she does for her “Favor” are disturbing. I want to shake her and say, “Are you crazy? The guy wears gold chains and calls you ‘sweet face’ and wants to watch you put on pantyhose!”

But it’s hard to put down. The book is well-written and captures early-80s New York so well: the seedy hangouts, the run-down hotels, the discos, the bad furnishings in Favor’s apartment (“The bedroom had mirrors with black streaks like marble running through them. And there was also a tiny fountain built into the floor that had real water running through it.”) And it completely satisfies my love of anything hooker-related. I’m almost done reading it, but I’m slowing down because I don’t want it to end.

On Retrobookshop.com it says the book “springs from [Fran Arrick’s] concern for the fates each year of thousands of young American runaways.” Let this be a warning to any young girls who want to run away into the arms of a guy who has a fountain in his bedroom.

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