Tonight, the New Yorker Fiction Department's Twitter account (@NYerFiction) will start tweeting Jennifer Egan's new story "Black Box." The entire story, which will also appear in the magazine's Science Fiction Issue next Monday, will be tweeted over the next ten evenings, from 8 to 9 P.M. E.T.
The idea of tweeting fiction in 140-character spurts might make some literary-minded folk a little queasy, but the concept makes total sense in line with the more exciting, innovative web presence the magazine's had ever since Nicholas Thompson took over as editor of newyorker.com. And Egan is a great author to experiment with the medium — her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Visit from the Goon Squad, has a chapter that's written entirely in PowerPoint. It would be annoyingly schticky if the magazine picked any old story to serialize in this way, but Egan wrote on the books blog that it took her a year to devise a story "whose structure would lend itself to serialization on Twitter," which means the endeavor is not just a social-media lark. She explained:
I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea. I wrote these bulletins by hand in a Japanese notebook that had eight rectangles on each page. The story was originally nearly twice its present length; it took me a year, on and off, to control and calibrate the material into what is now "Black Box."
Um, yeah, that sounds awesome. We'll definitely be tuning in.
Coming Soon: Jennifer Egan's Black Box [New Yorker]
Photo by Pieter M. Van Hattem/Vistalux