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A Novella Emerges Tweet by Tweet

2 May 2013

From The New York Times:

With the release of “Side Effects” earlier this year, Steven Soderbergh’s retirement from filmmaking (at least for the big screen), announced in 2011, finally took effect. Liberation might be a better word, since his recent activities seem to belong to a restless person newly freed from the constraints of his profession, rather than a used-up man at rest.

. . . .

[A] hard-boiled suspense novella called “Glue” began to appear, 140 characters and an occasional photograph at a time, in the Twitter stream of @Bitchuation, known to be Mr. Soderbergh’s handle. (Seven chapters have appeared so far).

. . . .

“The smart move is to pull up stakes and head for the nearest cliché. But you don’t.” That brief passage, from the second chapter of “Glue,” might stand as a typically self-deconstructing credo. The first sentence, after all, is composed almost entirely of the clichés that the second sentence pretends to brush aside.

. . . .

Twitterature is more like T-ball: The risks, the stakes and the degree of difficulty are all gratifyingly low. And “Glue,” which takes about 20 minutes to read and which was “published” within a 24-hour span, has laid its modest claim on the public’s attention with more stealth than hype. @Bitchuation, which Mr. Soderbergh has acknowledged as his but which does not bear his name or the blue-circled check mark of Twitter authenticity, has around 6,300 followers.Which would be a not-bad readership in the world of letters right now.

. . . .

The point of his experiment seems to be to isolate the minimal elements of a story. There is a protagonist — “you” — who has witnessed his own funeral, and who is involved in the globe-trotting pursuit of a mysterious object or substance identified as #&%#. Hopscotching among European capitals (London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome) you encounter various colleagues and enemies, all of them identified by a single letter (can’t waste characters!) including a femme fatale known as D.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Jeff for the tip.

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3 Comments to “A Novella Emerges Tweet by Tweet”

  1. I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while. I wrote a short horror story using Tweets, and that was pretty well received.

    An ongoing thing seems like it might be a lot of fun, as well as a nice break from grinding out a novel.

  2. Interesting. I like to immerse myself in a work, but I think there are readers who would enjoy it. Definitely worth experimentation.

  3. I’m curious why second person instead of first or third–there must be some reason other than character minimalism. “I” and “he” are both shorter than “you.”

    Makes me wonder if the author has wanted to write in the less-popular second person for a while and chose this experimental medium to try it.

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