The Literary 140-character miniverse and beyond

So there I was, whining about shrinking word counts for book reviews when I finally decided to be a twit.  Silly me, I had assume tweeting was only for the cell phone people, forever txting, always on-the-go.

Why would I have to tweet if I sat at my computer all day and had already mastered the Facebook status update?

Well, I can proudly declare that I am one of the sheep who has recently joined twitter – if US Senators can tweet during a Presidentail Address, then really, the band wagon left a long time ago.  (Psst, there are no rules in Web 3.0, mixed metaphors are encouraged.)

There is a certain freedom in 140 characters, which is thankfully longer than a newspaper headline, (now that I think about it, no one uses *which* in twitterland).  It’s like a writing warm-up exercise except that you can waste away hours reading other people’s homework. 

Unfortunately for me, this post shows an indecent reverence for old-school writing with nary a hyperlink, a brachiasaurus let loose in a post-Battlestar Galactica finale.

To correct this, I will refer to the Philip Moscovitch Globe and Mail story about twitterature.  (Of course, this link will only work for umpteen days, then the story will disappear behind the Globe firewall – so I really need to link to a blogger according to protocol.)  While PM writes about two people, I chose to highlight one.  The Canadian one who is not only mentioned first, he also happens to be Bengali like me.  (Got a problem with that?  Then leave a comment, but no  bile please.  I believe comments should be bile-free.)

Arjun Basu may be Canada’s most prolific author.

Since November, the Montreal-based writer has produced some 500 short stories. But this is short fiction with a twist: Follow @arjunbasu on Twitter and you’ll be reading lots and lots of very short stories — all exactly 140 characters long.

“It started as a lark and relatively quickly became something I was mildly obsessed with,” says Basu, the editorial director for custom publisher Spafax and author of last year’s short story collection Squishy.

Arjun Basu calls his tweeted stories – Twisters.  A few examples from @ArjunBasu must follow:

When he’d had too many drinks he’d reminisce about his youth and belt out Karma Chameleon before getting thrown out of some hipster dive bar

When the guests had gone, he surveyed the room. He felt panic, then resignation. There was nothing he could do to save her precious flowers.

We all know a book of tweets is in the works, if not Basu’s then someone else’s. 

And for every book hopefully, but not always, comes a review.  What better place to mention a story from the National Post’s book blog Afterword:

Erin Balser is the founder of Books in 140, the popular Twitter feed in which a book is reviewed in 140 characters. By day, she works in the marketing department of the University of Toronto Press. The 24-year-old East Coast transplant exchanged e-mails with the Post‘s Mark Medley about the difficulties of short reviews, the site’s popularity, and the future of publishing.

The Afterword: Where did the idea for Books in 140 come from?

Erin Balser: I wanted to use social media — Facebook, my blog, Twitter, etc — as a space to better participate in the book community and validate the
ridiculous amounts of reading I do, but I couldn’t think of an original angle to approach them from. I had started to use Twitter as a means of networking and connecting professionally when it came to me — Twitter could give me the originality I was looking for while participating in the always-growing online literature community.

The circle of reading is complete.   


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