Tweeting the classics
The news that a pair of university freshmen have signed a book deal to recast 75 classic tales in 20 or fewer Tweet messages of 140 characters or less may be greeted as either a sign of the times or a warning of the apocalypse.
Nevertheless, Penguin Books will be publishing “Twitterature” as a stocking-stuffer this holiday season. We predict it will make the entreprenurial authors a small fortune and perhaps a “sequel” before “Twitteraholics” with teeny-tiny Twitterbug attention spans go onto the next short-list fad and “Twitterature” joins “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” on Deseret Industries bookshelves.
Any long-term impact associated with “Twitterature,” we suspect, will involve the success or failure of lazy students trying to pass off what they learned in the literary Tweets as essays or term papers on the books.
Thinking more about this though, we sense a problem with “Twitterature.” Will its readers possess the literary stamina to plow through 20 Tweets? There’s repeat finger-clicking involved, plus brain power is required to digest the bite-sized plot nuggets.
Frankly, we think it’s unsporting for a book that enables the narcissism of students loathe to pass page 3 in “Pride and Prejudice” to extend the classics as far as 20 Tweets. For “Twitterature” to achieve its desired result, a novel or classic should be condensed into a single 140-character Tweet.
It’s not as hard as it seems: Here are a few examples:
* Pride and Prejudice: A young woman meets a proud but rich man. She dislikes him and refuses his marriage proposal. Then he helps her sister and she reconsiders.
* 1984: A cruel dictatorship stifles a man and woman’s need for love. They attempt to have a relationship but are caught, tortured and fall out of love.
* The Shining (OK, Stephen King may not fit the classics, but Twitter knows no prejudices!): A haunted hotel is attracted to the psychic son of the caretaker. The hotel cons dad into trying to kill him. The boy survives. Dad dies.
* Man’s Need to Tweet: An online communication system allows instant messages across the world. Two authors exploit it to publish a silly book. Many fools buy it.
All right, we made that last title up. But we think our one-Tweet summations are more in the spirit of “Twitterature.”
And if you don’t read the book, that’s OK, just watch the movie — you can get a Tweet out of that!
If you want to learn more about “Twitterature,” you can Web surf to http://www.twitterature.us/ — to be honest, there’s not much there though.