Twit Lit

Jennifer Egan has tweeted the first ever short story for Twitter. It appeared in ten installments @NYerFiction, the New Yorker Magazine Fiction Department’s Twitter handle. Egan is the author of several highly regarded books, including most recently the Pulitzer Prize-winning A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD.

Below are the first three chapters (or stanzas?) of the story called “The Black Box.” But we recommend that you go to NYerFiction to get the true flavor of this work which confines each sentence to 140 characters or less. It is a different experience to read it as a series of tweets than as a whole work as you can do in the last issue of the New Yorker.

Here is what Egan has to say about her work in a New Yorker blog posting:

“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…”

 “Black Box”


People rarely look the way you expect them
to, even when you’ve seen pictures.

The first thirty seconds in a person’s
presence are the most important.

If you’re having trouble perceiving and
projecting, focus on projecting.

Necessary ingredients for a successful
projection: giggles; bare legs; shyness.

The goal is to be both irresistible and

When you succeed, a certain sharpness
will go out of his eyes.


Some powerful men actually call their
beauties “Beauty.”

Counter to reputation, there is a deep
camaraderie among beauties.

If your Designated Mate is widely feared,
the beauties at the house party where
you’ve gone undercover to meet him will
be especially kind.

Kindness feels good, even when it’s based
on a false notion of your identity and


Posing as a beauty means not reading
what you would like to read on a rocky
shore in the South of France.

Sunlight on bare skin can be as nourishing
as food.

Even a powerful man will be briefly
self-conscious when he first disrobes to his
bathing suit.

It is technically impossible for a man to
look better in a Speedo than in swim

If you love someone with dark skin, white
skin looks drained of something vital.