Thursday, May 24, 2012


Here on the porch we are readers and writers and when the newspaper world twitches we jump.

In the news this morning: the Denver Post and its disappearing copy desk. Those are the people who catch errors of fact and style. Will anyone notice (besides us)? Most online news sites clearly did it long ago.

Besides, copy is shrinking. In the Twitter café, thoughts come in 140-character burps. The medium has replaced the message. And the webbing between American writers trembles, rearranges itself, its individual nodes take note.

Jennifer Egan is one such node. Her new story, “Black Box”, will be serialized on Twitter. When it hits print in the New Yorker’s summer Sci-Fi issue (yes, really), it will be a story told in 140-character increments.

It may be a wonderful story--hers usually are--but think of the distraction. (Not yours, sweetie.)

Now a fiction writer has to think about the platform, obsess over something entirely unrelated to the story itself. Writers are always longing for something fascinating to do or think about to avoid actually writing, so this is actually perfect. The potential effect on the work, the "product", the "content", may be something else, however.

In the long run, if there is a long run, it may not matter. But what will truly suffer is the long, elegant sentence that sets the heart to race and lifts the spirit. Oh, and the two of us on this porch, looking for something really good and transporting to read.