All a-Twitter

Seven microblogging books worth scrolling upward for
By MIKE MILIARD  |  January 14, 2009

Here's our favorite passage so far from the debut novel by Tom Scharpling, a screenwriter for USA Network's Monk and long-time host of "The Best Show" on WFMU. (It's long, but we've put in chronological order, for your convenience.)
Novel idea: Twitter fiction. By Mike Miliard.

Kurt leaned back, feeling a sick wet squishing as his shirt pressed against his spine.
"You're right I do need this job, sir.
"But I'm not lying about loving cigars.
"And I want to write about them.
"And if that makes me some kind of joke in your eyes, then I don't know what to say.
"But I fell in love with CIGAR AFICIONADO from the first time I saw it.
"Pierce Brosnan was on the cover."
The fat man leaned forward and asked, "What was he smoking?"
"It was something Cuban, if I remember correctly.
"An El Rey del Mundo.
"I recall him preferring its bite with a Pinar del Rio cognac."
The man smiled slightly.
"You're serious about this, huh?"
Kurt nodded yes.
"Then I've got something for you.
"I want you to write a profile on Kid Rock."
Kurt couldn't believe what he was hearing.
Kid Rock was his Brian Wilson, his Beethoven.
He knew every note of music the man had created.
"I see that look on your face, Kurt.
"You're star struck, aren't you."
Kurt couldn't deny it.
But the fat man didn't smile
His face turned red as he shouted back his answer, his cigar resting pathetically on the edge of his desk.
"Listen to me and listen good, okay?
"Kid Rock is one of the biggest assholes on this planet.
"He's not going to make this easy on you."

"Everytime FUEL DUMP publishes, I lose people," Scharpling tweeted on December 29. "Is it the ninety new Tweets greeting them in the morning? Is that it?" Luckily, he's learned to dole out the plot in enticingly slow doses, not overburdening his readers with too much black comedy and white-knuckle excitement!

"Twitter to me is like the telegraph was in the 1800s," says Joy Motel co-writer, John Kewley. "It's really pure, it's really elemental, it can't be more simple. It connects A and B across landscapes and oceans except that, in those days, [where there was] one telegraph key tapping out messages in Morse code, racing out across the country on the wires, there are now millions of keyboards tapping out Twitter messages all at once.

Joy Motel is rife with references to that tapping sound: a lobster dancing on a glass table, or the clickity-clack of a train passing by. In fact, each short burst packs an eerie, imagistic wallop. Witness the opening lines, which set the sci-fi scene:

The red balloon kissed the wall of the Joy Motel, Home Of The Two Hour Nap. Static charge held it there quivering, waiting to explode.

Street level. Smell of dry ice; legacy of the deep freeze. Footprints: hourglasses in snow. Turning the corner, the balloon going pap pp pap

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