In March, Jennifer Egan (A Visit From the Goon Squad) paid a visit to Google and was asked to sum up her year since winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. She said: “I am still not used to the idea that I won it. Maybe I will finally really grab hold of that idea when someone else wins it. I will say ‘No, I want it!’ ” Little did she know that just a few weeks later the Pulitzer Prize judges would decline to name a successor, leaving her in mental limbo for yet another year. She seems to be handling it pretty well — well enough to publish a new short story on The New Yorker’s Fiction twitter stream. Yes, you read that right, its Twitter stream.
Starting last night, The New Yorker began tweeting her new story, “Black Box,” and the story will continue to unfold over nine more nightly installments. It’s a gimmick, you’re thinking, right? Well, for Egan, it’s not. She explains on The New Yorker web site:
I’d also been wondering about how to write fiction whose structure would lend itself to serialization on Twitter. This is not a new idea, of course, but it’s a rich one—because of the intimacy of reaching people through their phones, and because of the odd poetry that can happen in a hundred and forty characters. 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.”
If you’re a Twitter user, you can catch the live stream between 8 and 9 P.M. EDT. (And you can also follow our lively Twitter stream here.) If micro-serialized fiction isn’t your thing, then you can always follow the story on The New Yorker’s “Page Turner” blog.