Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Twitter Novels

When I was in high school, it seems like there was a chasm between subjects. What was Language Arts in elementary and perhaps middle school became Literature. American Literature, English Literature and World Literature. Okay, I was kidding – in the 1980s, Georgia schools did not care about world literature. But you get the idea.

And with changing from language arts, where we would read short stories and write a bit, now we would have to read entire novels and remember certain aspects of the novels. That is when I first was aquainted with small, pamphlets, black and yellow, which probably saved many a lazy student. They were called Cliffs Notes, and instead of reading several hundred pages, you could read forty pages, learn not only what happened in the book, but also what it meant. Alliteration, themes, comparisons to other similar works, it seemed to be a cheating way of getting through the great novels.

I was fairly poor growing up, and I had no money for Cliffs Notes. I actually had to read the novels. I was not even bold enough to rent the movies and just get the gist that way. I figure the English teacher probably formed questions based on what was in the book but not the movie. And that fear helped me experience great literature.

I remember reading The Great Gatsby, and my English teacher would almost blush at some of the passages. The subtle sex was lost on this teenage girl. I knew nothing of sex, and the code words F. Scott Fitzgerald used to describe the trysts in his novel.

The other day, I thought about Twitter, and wouldn't it be great to tweet about novels. Instead of the 40 pages of black and yellow, I would attempt to summarize novels in 140 characters. Quite a challenge.

I mean, we have gotten into this frenzy, where no one has time to do much of anything. The students reading Cliffs Notes in high school have more to do than ever. Might as well condense what they need into 140 characters.

I remember laying back on cars, parked in fields, looking at the sky and just watching the clouds. That was a memory in high school – and in college, drinking beer on parked cars in a drizzle before a thunderstorm. Just chatting, sipping and killing time. No computer, no cell phone. Nothing to interrupt life. And I think that is disappearing, slowly . . . or quickly.

I think I will call this Twitter Novel. It kills a bunch of characters, but that's okay. It will take less time to type out the novels.

My first foray into this new experiment:

Twitter Novel, Ulysses: If you fit the Odyssey into one day, 16 June 1904, add a newspaper office, a brothel, a funeral, and public houses, and stir. Nora Barnacle, you should be so proud.

4 comments:

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mrwriteon said...

Brilliant! Of course, you have to throw in the dirty stuff to make Ulysses really work.

Malach the Merciless said...

Wow, it is shocking they let you read The Great Gatsby in GA in the 80's.

Leesa said...

Blog Links: thanks for the spam.

Ian: but in 140 characters?

Malach: It was actually shocking that we read anything other than Southern writers, actually.