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.
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.