Tweets as Fiction: Black Box by Jennifer Egan

Internet Histories

29.05.2012

Tweets as Fiction: Black Box by Jennifer Egan

In The New Yorker’s science fiction issue this week is a story by Jennifer Egan – Black Box – a sci-fi thriller featuring a character from her novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. In the novel, Lulu is the love-child of a publicist and a movie star named the General, and here we find her not only an adult but a sexy undercover spy musing on the realities of seducing a powerful and ruthless stranger. Written in 140-or-less character bursts, the story will also be systematically tweeted over the next ten days (well, five days now), at a rate of one tweet a minute for sixty minutes a day.

The concept is gimmicky, but only because it’s been framed as this innovative exploration of using twitter as a delivery system. This isn’t going to revitalise serialised fiction, especially not in the way they’re doing it. Why in God’s name would anybody want that pixelated duck-face preening next to each sentence, let alone the constant reminder that you’re reading ‘New Yorker Fiction’? At the very least, create an account for the character – this is one of the strengths of Twitter after all: disseminating bite-sized insights into the banalities of a stranger's life  – case in point: Coffee Dad's day-to-day repression.

Thankfully the story can also be read here and so far, it’s a good time - poetic and powerful in ways that surprise, and it's remarkable how well she builds suspense given the constraints she's working under. I hugely admire Egan’s experimentation with form – her PowerPoint chapter in A Visit From The Goon Squad was one of the most exciting things I read last year – and it’s nice to see somebody exploring the medium and its potential instead of writing it off as “everything I oppose.”

Summer Reading: Our Favourites From 2015
Read Time: 23 mins
Our fantastic contributors on the best things they...
Internet Histories
Summer Reading: Our Favourites From 2015
By Pantograph Punch
I'm Feeling Lucky: The Forum
Read Time: 13 mins
Sam Brooks on the SimRTK forums
Internet Histories
I'm Feeling Lucky: The Forum
By Sam Brooks
The Great Indifferent Censor
Read Time: 5 mins
Let's not mistake content moderation for moral reasoning...
Art
The Great Indifferent Censor
By Joe Nunweek
Words at White Night
Read Time: 3 mins
A group of poets respond to Auckland's night of art...
Literature
Words at White Night
By Pantograph Punch
Oscar Week: Trojan Brioche
Read Time: 7 mins
Janet McAllister on Grand Budapest Hotel and how it...
Screen
Oscar Week: Trojan Brioche
By Janet McAllister
Summer Reading: Our Favourites from 2014
Read Time: 13 mins
Our writers' favourites from 2014
Internet Histories
Summer Reading: Our Favourites from 2014
By Pantograph Punch
Inside Armageddon's Ice-Cream Eating Competition
Read Time: 6 mins
Rosabel Tan reports back from Armageddon's Ice-Cream...
Internet Histories
Inside Armageddon's Ice-Cream Eating Competition
By Rosabel Tan
Dirty Politics
Read Time: 8 mins
While Dirty Politics continues to reverberate, life...
Internet Histories
Dirty Politics
By Anna Bracewell-Worrall