Friday, May 08, 2009

I have heard people whine

that one cannot do anything with twitter and it's stupid and you can't express a good idea in 140 characters and it will contribute to the general ADDness of our culture, and... and...

I give you twitter short story writer Arjun Basu.

To quote Forrest Gump, also known for brevity:

"that's all I have to say about that."


Ps. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" = 73 characters.


Anonymous said...

Prose meets haiku. Art follows. Geezer windbag left bereft.

PG said...

Sure, and the most popular novels in Japan these days are written by cell phone.

Arjun's very short stories don't really defeat the "contribute to the general ADDness of our culture" point. Provide more evidence, if anything. Why go into depth of someone's character when there can be a pithy summation?

Chalicechick said...

The haiku example seems apt to me, and I doubt haiku has contributed to the ADDness of anybody's culture.

Some stories can be best told in a Victorian novel, sometimes

"The waves churned the shore, relentless. Their groping could not overcome the power of the waves. From Here to Eternity, she said, All a lie"

is all that needs to be said.


who also likes

"They sat watching the buildings burn. Some of the kids lit smokes and laughed. The firemen eyed them wearily. And turned their hoses on them"


"The women planned. They liked planning. So they did it. They spent days and weeks planning. They planned everything. And the men drank beer."


"He sees the traffic but doesn't quite comprehend it. The enormity of it. The cacophony of honking horns. I wish I was wearing pants, he says"

It's like eating peanuts or arguing with Steve Caldwell, once I start reading that page it's just so hard to stop. Normally writing about bodily functions is the fastest way to lose my interest but somehow, I manage to forgive this guy.

PG said...

Traditional haiku, at least, isn't supposed to have character or plot. One thing that I've seen drives people who have studied Japan nuts is to have someone refer to something as haiku when there's no "kigo" (seasonal reference), and just deeming it a haiku based solely on syllable count. Haiku generally is supposed to express something of the moment: an emotion like love or nostalgi, an appreciation of beauty or some other aspect of nature, etc. It's not really a narrative form of Japanese poetry, and indeed many poems aren't intended to be narrative. (One of my favorite poems about female beauty, "I Knew a Woman," doesn't have much of a story to it.) On the other hand, Paradise Lost is a really freaking long narrative poem.

Short stories pretty much by definition are supposed to be somewhat narrative. This guy's twitters aren't so much stories as a kind of fictional epigram. The people in them are anonymous, interchangeable; the idea is not to communicate a narrative so much as to create an emotion (quite like much of poetry, in this respect), an emotion that most often seems to be of surprise/amusement.

Joel Monka said...

I wish to God that Jane Austen had been limited to that format. There was a girl back in high school I could have had if I'd been able to pretend I enjoyed Jane Austen, but it just couldn't be done.

Chalicechick said...

There's someone who lost me for liking Confederacy of Dunces for the wrong reason.

Us literary chicks are TOUGH.

That said, even though I read someplace that soldiers returning from war have been known to love Jane Austen as her focus on the machinations of society and their tremendous importance to those machinating is a good reintroduction to a world where one isn't being shot at, I think asking a high school boy to appreciate her is asking a lot. That chick was probably more trouble than she was worth.

That said, today's Austen-admirer-admirers have another option as Pride and Prejudice is available in comic book form.

who has been had by several people who appreciated Robertson Davies, yet is married to a man who has never made it through one of his books. There's having, and then there's keeping.

PG said...

I was thinking recently that both Edward Said's criticism of Austen and the new bestseller "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" have this in common: they both assume that the woman-centric concerns in the books aren't serious enough to be worth anyone's time, and so something else ought to be inserted to be the real interest. Said thought it should be the militarism and imperialism of Britain in Austen's era (the movie version of "Mansfield Park" that came out several years ago seems to have been done by someone who took Said too much to heart), and Seth Grahame-Smith thinks it should be fighting off zombies, but it's the same underlying critique: domestic comforts, family affection, and finding a mate into whom your existence will be financially, socially and legally subsumed just aren't what really matters in life.

Chalicechick said...

If it helps, the Pride and Prejudice comic DOES focus on the story as Jane told it.

There are several things that really matter in my life that I don't want to read novels about. But I do get what you're saying and it's a really important critique.

I had assumed that the point of Zombie Pride and Prejudice was to make fun of both zombie movies and Victorian society novels in a way that, say, a novel about social and romantic intrigue among people trapped in a farmhouse that is being attacked by zombies would*.

But I get what you're saying about there being a less-amusing subtext.


*Ye gods, I want to write that novel now.

PG said...

"I had assumed that the point of Zombie Pride and Prejudice was to make fun of both zombie movies and Victorian society novels in a way that, say, a novel about social and romantic intrigue among people trapped in a farmhouse that is being attacked by zombies would*."

I don't think Graeme-Smith intended any real criticism of the original P&P, but he's literally taken it and inserted zombies. There are stretches of three or four pages at a time where he's just replicating P&P. He's done what the title says: P&P and zombies. Both he and Said look at the fact that the militia was stationed in Meryton and say, "Ah, that's clearly where the action is! Let's talk about the folks with guns and why they are there!"

I can't think of a really important aspect of my life that hasn't already been a topic of an excellent novel: how to understand and express oneself; how to build a good marriage; how to maintain family peace; how to be a responsible member of society; how to achieve success and do good work while staying in balance with these other things.