An anecdotal ode to books

Yesterday, on my bus ride home, I started The Master and Margarita. An older gentleman behind me cleared his throat, smiled, and grumbled “Miss, that’s my favorite book. Very important…culturally.” I turned to him and smiled briefly, then looked back down at the page.

Chapter one: “Never Talk With Strangers”

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Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box”

Last week @NYerFiction tweeted Jennifer Egan’s 8500 word thriller, “Black Box,” in nightly installments. Because the story was finished before publication, calling it serial fiction feels like a stretch. Calling it brilliant, however, does not.

Read it in full here.

A few notes from following along in real time:

– Have to reacquaint yourself with the story every few seconds. Pull yourself back in. Almost as if the whole thing is happening in a room next to you, but the food frying on the stove in front of you keeps interrupting your focus.

– Impatience for the next bit. Not in a cliff-hanger / suspense sort of way…more as an Internet ADD problem.

– Awesome to read them among the other tweets in your stream. Funniest examples below:

–       Often have to read the tweet before, once more with every new bit. It changes, or creates, the rhythm of the story. The pacing, A. AB. B. BC. C. CD. D. DE.

–       You need a distraction in between – each installment posted over the course of an hour.

–       Word repetition (intentional or not) isn’t as noticeable. Diaphonous bathrobe…wouldn’t have remembered that word choice had I not reread the entire piece a few times the day before.

–       No typos. Feels secret. Intimate. Also perhaps the nature of the story.

–       A plot revealing itself while the world chatters.

–       The “make every sentence count” rule is heightened to an extreme. Tweets that fell flat pissed me off.

–       Really, really appreciative of the craft. As you read, hard not to compare it to fiction, and also to other tweets…she kills it on both levels.

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No Title

The slow motion submerge / a crack / whiplash under water / one one thousand / one one thousand / one one thousand / two one thousand / pull up / you’ve got it / yes / there, use your fingernails / see? / your fingernails /

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Chekhov on Tolstoy

“When literature possesses a Tolstoy, it is easy and pleasant to be a writer; even when you know you have achieved nothing yourself and are still achieving nothing, this is not as terrible as it might otherwise be, because Tolstoy achieves for everyone. What he does serves to justify all the hopes and aspirations invested in literature.”

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Domino’s Pizza Safe Sound

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Ham on Rye

Bukowski is a genius. Ham on Rye is genius. The scene in the classroom, with the autistic kid masturbating to the English teacher was genius–had me laughing so loudly at Potbelly that my giggles drowned out the rising star playing in the corner.

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The chewing gum collector

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