Friday, April 13, 2012
Anti-Twitter: 150 50-Word Stories by Harold Jaffe
(pb; 2010: microstory anthology. Cover image by Brandon Duncan)
From the back cover:
"These 50-word stories are based on 'found' texts from mainstream news sources and other public sites. Jaffe sculpts them to reveal their inner core, all niceties stripped away. Now the true motives, fears and sins of our age are on display for all who care to see.
"Amidst an internet-driven content boom, meaning has virtually disappeared. Anti-Twitter's extreme brevity demonstrates by example that brief need not = dumbed down. Though the stories describe a wide arc: high and pop culture, intimate and public, sordid and exalted, all subjects are equally laid bare by Jaffe. . ."
Excellent, cut-to-it-no-filler work that will have maximalists who still think Stephen King is a good writer grumbling and those of us - often called minimalists - who truly appreciate no-bullsh*t writing, celebrating.
Not all of Jaffe's 50-word microstories wowed me (some read like too-vague or inconclusive offerings), but most of them worked: trimming some of these from the book would have been wise, but even those few, flawed microstories are clearly reaching for something not normally reached for by most writers, so the mere fact of Jaffe attempting to do so makes these flawed works interesting, for the most part, rather than complete failures.
The forty-three microstories that wowed or intrigued me were pointed, funny, seething, ironic, playful and often disturbing in their blunt or wry assessments, e.g.:
"A resident of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, trapped a mouse in his house.
"It was Fall, he was burning leaves outside, he tossed the alive mouse in the fire.
"But the mouse, inflamed, darted from the fire back into the house.
"The house and everything in it were incinerated."
This is one of my all-time favorite stories. I wish I had written this, one of the highest compliments I can pay any piece of writing.
Anti-Twitter is a smart, timely and great anthology - worth owning and re-reading.