Today in books and fiction: Twitter to celebrate very short stories; The Mo Yan-iest Place on Earth; Chris Ware's new graphic novel shuns e-reading; it's too early for 2013 Nobel odds.
Twitter Fiction Festival. Twitterphobic readers will probably roll their eyes at the thought of fiction condensed to 140 characters or less, but some scholars are calling Tweeting a "new literary practice." Twitter thinks its platform hosts some great fiction and plans to celebrate it with its first Twitter Fiction Festival scheduled for late November. The festival won't take place IRL (how old fashioned would that be), but will last for five days under the hashtag #twitterfiction. Many well regarded writers have turned to Twitter as a creative outlet in recent years. Jennifer Egan used Twitter to serialize her story "Black Box," later published in The New Yorker. Teju Cole's account is full of brief tales he calls "Small Fates." And John Wray used Twitter to follow the exploits of a character from his novel Lowboy who ended up on the cutting room floor. [Twitter Blog]
Mo Yan land. Chinese authorities couldn't be happier about Mo Yan's Nobel win. In fact, they're so thrilled that they want to share the author's life story with the world through tourist attractions. First up: fixing Yan's birthplace. The Beijing News reports officials are urging Yan's 90-year-old father to fix up the family farm in remote Gaomi county. "Your son is no longer your son, and the house is no longer your house," Shandong official Fan Hui told Yan's father. "It does not really matter if you agree or not," he said, because the home will inevitably be absorbed into the "Mo Yan Culture Experience Zone." Other plans have also been announced for the "Red Sorghum Culture and Experience Zone," a sort of theme park based on Yan's novel Red Sorghum where visitors will get to see real peasants cultivating real sorghum (even though the crop is now unprofitable). Sounds like government-mandated fun for the whole family! [The Telegraph]
Chris Ware indulges the possibilites of print. In his glowing review of Chris Ware's Building Stories for The New York Times, Douglas Wolk writes about the limitations Ware imposes on how the reader can approach his latest graphic novel:
You will never be able to read Building Stories on a digital tablet, by design. It is a physical object, printed on wood pulp, darn it. It’s a big, sturdy box, containing 14 different "easily misplaced elements"—a hard-bound volume or two, pamphlets and leaflets of various dimensions, a monstrously huge tabloid à la century-old Sunday newspaper comics sections and a folded board of the sort that might once have come with a fancy game.
Ware's story centers on a socially isolated florist, but allows readers to trace the lives of her neighbors in an old Chicago building as they please. The discrete pieces of the Building Stories package aren't numbered, and come in various shapes and sizes. All the new technology orbiting books has been fascinating, as The New Yorker's Deenah Vollmer recently captured in her Alice's Adventures in Wonderland-like descriptions of the Frankfurt Book Fair. But let's not forget that good old fashioned print can be a pretty crazy medium, too. [The New York Times]
Start placing bets on the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, if you're the kind of person who needs to be first at everything. But be prepared to wait a whole year to find out whether Haruki Murakami, again the frontrunner, makes good on your money. The chart looks pretty similar to the odds floating around before Mo Yan's win. Writers near the top include Hungary's Péter Nádas, Kenya's Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, and Syria's Adonis. Bob Dylan is still hovering near the bottom, but E.L. James is conspicuously absent! Whatever you do, don't bet on the contender in the 13th slot: Mo Yan. Are bookies just trying to fool bettors who weren't paying attention to this year's awards? [Nicerodds]
Jami Attenberg's The Middlesteins has been described as "a funnier, shorter Jonathan Franzen novel," so you know there's going to be some family drama. Since Attenberg knows a thing or two about the theme, Publishers Weekly asked her to compile a list of literature's most dysfunctional families. She somehow managed to leave off the Bundrens. [Publishers Weekly]
New York readers, do you think the Village Voice got it right by naming BookCourt the city's best bookstore? [Village Voice]