Next week I’ll be participating in an interesting project created by Electric Literature. A few days ago, I received an email with the following:
Electric Literature would like to invite you to be an official co-publisher of Rick Moody’s “Some Contemporary Characters,” a short story written expressly for Twitter. We want to break down the barriers between publishers and readers by encouraging a massive, participatory literary event. We’re concocting a kind of pyramid scheme: We each tweet the story to our respective followers. We tell our followers to retweet. They tell their followers to retweet the retweet, etcetera. With enough co-publishers and citizen re-tweeters, together we can drown Twitter in literature (twitterature?) for three days straight.
To the best of our knowledge, Rick’s story is the first work of fiction written expressly for Twitter by a major literary author.
The microserialization™ of Rick’s story will take place on every co-publisher’s Twitter feed from Monday, November 30th through Wednesday December 2nd. Tweets will appear every ten minutes from 10am until 6:30pm.
Moody’s story is broken into 153 bursts of 140 characters or less, each clearly labored over with a precision and lyricism that reveals the surprising literary potential of the tweet. “It really was like writing Haiku,” Rick told us. We believe he has taken something that could be seen as gimmicky – “Twitter-fiction” – and created something transcendent.
Whether or not you buy into their claims about its originality (in Japan, there have been entire novels written in Twitter and then republished in print), I think the project will be worth paying attention to, if only to see how Rick Moody–a maker of notoriously long and complicated sentences–changes his style to suit the medium.
So, anyway, I’ve signed up to be a “co-publisher” which means I’ll be automatically re-tweeting the story. If you’re interested in following along, please follow me on Twitter: @shyascanlon
If you’re interested in participating, ask the good people at EL directly: firstname.lastname@example.org