Twitterstream of Consciousness

1. I’m not sure I’m feeling the new Rick Moody “Twitter novel” that has begun appearing on Electric Literature and will continue for two more days. Some Contemporary Characters is a noble experiment by a good writer, but after the first day it feels more like a proof of concept than an integrated work. The tweets are written in a rarefied, elegant tone, as when the characters are bowling: “An ungodly strike, an indisputable strike, one pin teetering at the rightmost margin like chastity itself toppling with a dramatic sigh”. Okay, but do people really talk like that on Twitter? Maybe Moody is focusing on the artistic potential of the 140-character sentence, but that’s only half of what this work needs to do. It must also feel natural on Twitter, must reflect its setting in terms of identity and plot as well as character-count. This novel still feels like a text placed on Twitter rather than born there.

Why not write a Twitter novel as a variation on the epistolary or diary-form novel? We should believe that we are reading one person’s actual tweets, and should feel engaged in piecing a mysterious story together from the available evidence. This could really work, and I was hoping to see that kind of realism here. Carolyn Kellogg doesn’t seem convinced by Moody’s new work either. Well, it’s worth sticking with; there’s still time for it to turn into something.

2. It’s been established that James Joyce inadvertently invented the word ‘blog’, and now it seems that Vladimir Nabokov quasi-invented the smiley. Very cool.

3. Ed Champion reviews the new film version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I detest McCarthy’s books and would probably steer clear of this pity party even if Ed liked it, but it’s a notable fact that Ed didn’t.

4. Stephen Sondheim is writing a memoir.

5. I recently suggested that New York Times Book Review chief and conservative critic Sam Tanenhaus ought to review Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. Indeed he has done so, though for the New Yorker instead of his own publication. It’s a good piece. In other NYTBR-related news, the film based on critic Walter Kirn’s Up In The Air is getting excellent reviews. I plan to see it soon and will surely tell you what I think.

6. More film news: Schiller: Rebel of Arcadia is a new film biography of classic German Romantic author Friedrich von Schiller. The Last Station features Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy, and a movie based on Chekhov’s Ward Six has debuted in Russia.

7. Brian May of Queen has written a book, A Village Lost and Found, about antique stereoscopic photographs.

8. P. G. Wodehouse channels Franz Kafka, according to this observer (via Books Inq).

9 Responses

  1. I recall reading that teenage
    I recall reading that teenage Japanese girls are writing novels on their cell phones (while they shop) and, of course, getting them published.

  2. Re: Joyce and “blog.”
    Re: Joyce and “blog.” Shakespeare’s father John was also a “brogger” (wool merchant).

  3. I recommend The Fantastic Mr.
    I recommend The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the new film by Wes Anderson. Quite amusing. Based on the book by Roald Dahl. Saw The Road also. It was quite gruesome. I have neve read any McCarthy, so I have no point of reference to the novel. But the roving bands of cannibals gave my wife nightmares.

    Now I have to go compose an epic poem on my cell phone.

  4. I’ll just go on record as
    I’ll just go on record as saying I loved The Road – the book. It was one of the best I’ve read so far this year. (I didn’t pick it up until recently. I rarely read something based on praise or criticism, so I tend to wait awhile before I get around to reading ‘current’ books.)

    Then again, I don’t read books to turn around and tear them apart on an intellectual level. I’m not a critic after all. I just read for the purpose of enjoying a good read. And The Road was a great read. I don’t really care if the ‘intellectuals’ out there destroyed it. Sounds to me like they are a little jealous.

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the movie.

  5. Fair enough, Stevadore, but
    Fair enough, Stevadore, but just for the record my objection to “The Road” or McCarthy’s other books has nothing to do with my perception of his intellect. As I think I expressed well in the older LitKicks article linked above, what I can’t stand about him is his depressing pessimism and endlessly pained vision of humanity.

  6. Levi, yes I remember the
    Levi, yes I remember the article, and you are correct. He certainly is depressing, pessimistic and pained. At the same time, though, The Road was quite realistic.

  7. So Nabokov kind of invented
    So Nabokov kind of invented the “smiley face”. Now that’s a hoot…Speaking of hoopla, I’ve noticed that the archives in Litkicks “Action Poetry” is missing October and November ’09. Hey, I know these things do take time… Editors, please get the archives up for those months as soon as electronically possible. We like to continue to see our stuff on line. It enhances our lifestyle…Something to twitter about.

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