Friday, July 8, 2011

Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less / by Alexander Aciman

Is there anything that can't be done faster and with more abruptness? Apparently not. Even the greatest of the classic works of literature are never safe from the fast food mode of information dissemination we live with nowadays. Instant messaging, texting and Twitter have seemingly revolutionized communication to a point of no return. And so it's kind of an inevitability when you think about it that all "knowledge" will be streamlined before we know it. With this in mind, a couple of kids (both of them 19 at the time of writing) have taken it upon themselves to redo some of the world's best books (and plays and poems) ever. From the point of view of the major characters involved with a bit of of side-noting, each book is translated in Tweet-form, summarizing the gist of the story. For example, All Quiet on the Western Front / by Erich Maria Remarque, quite a "@Remarquable Tale" we're told, things start off with a nod to the now regrettable decision by the main character Paul to enlist in the German Army during World War I. "I've always heard 'Paul. Listen to adults, and teachers.' You too? We could be in Hamburg cracking open a Holsten instead."

On the cover of this book is a definition for the title--Twitterature: \'twi-te-re-,chur\n: an amalgamation of "twitter" and "literature"; humorous reworkings of literary classics for the twenty-first-century intellect, in digestive portions of 20 tweets or less. And that's just what it is. Some of the tweets are very funny; others are just plain silly and far more than just a few are really raunchy. Swiftness is key. Most tweeted book reports aren't but a page (a small page) or two at most. Along with the often quite sublime (and college-level crude) comments, things can get to the point in a hurry (i.e., from Fitzgerald's best known book: "Two bad drives met. :O," "Gatsby is so emo. Who cries about his girlfriend while eating breakfast... IN THE POOL?"). A brainchild of college students, Aciman and his roommate Emmett Rensin, at the University of Chicago, Twitterature is really irreverent. But it's also something which, as with everything else in the digital age, can't help but providing your literary knowledge with burst of quirky ingenuity. It might not be Cliffs Notes, but it's definitely a trip. Readers should be warned that this book is definitely *adult* in its humor. (818.607 ACIMAN)

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