If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter – Mark Twain.
The ability to express effectively with fewer words is a talent, not bequeathed to everybody. While Hemingway – who is famous for his distinctive minimalist style of writing – would write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of gibberish, other writers who do not share his sentiments prefer sticking to lengthy compositions of prose.
Flash fiction on social media is not a thing of the past. It still exists. It has been existing since social media sites began and everyone suddenly had a story to tell. Having said that, where most writers languish in their attempts to produce short stories, the challenge of writing prose in a hundred and forty characters, seems like a herculean task.
When the Kalimpong-born author-illustrator Manoj Pandey started sharing snippets of his writings on Twitter, he did not expect that it would attract the kind of attention it did. Moments of literary joy followed as people began tweeting tales right back at him, including famous personalities like Shashi Tharoor, Salman Rushdie, Kabir Bedi and Margaret Atwood.
Tales on Tweet, curated by Manoj Pandey, is a collection of stories in one hundred and forty characters accompanied by awe-inspiring illustrations by the acclaimed Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu. Each story offers a different plot, allowing the readers to delve into a different world with the turn of each page.
From Salman Rushdie’s, “She died. He followed her into the underworld. She refused to return, preferring Hades. It was a long way to go to be dumped” to Margaret Atwood’s “Red footprint, white footprint. An axe in the snow. But no body. Was a large bird involved? He scratched his head and made notes”, the micro tales in this book explore a plethora of emotions, drugging the readers to slip into moments of deep thoughts and silent contemplations.
Micro tales present in the book form a world of their own – of loneliness, passion, deep-seated anger and of changes that come about in bursts and spurts – sometimes with unnerving consequences. Tales on Tweet is quite a breakthrough in presenting stories and I hope more people do that.
While some stories offer an insight into the world of macabre, others are musings of the lonely heart.
For a restless generation like ours, with seconds-long attention span and apathy to reading, this may be the ideal volume to get them interested in reading the more traditional shorter stories, where the impulse is the same: to reveal a slice of life, usually from behind a veil of mystery.
Other than the tainted tale of tweets, this compilation also scores aces with its illustrations. Every single tweet is accompanied by an artistic illustration which defines the true meaning of Pandey’s avid understanding of that tweet. These illustrations have brought these stories alive through Shimizu’s phantasmagorical images, making the book step-off the scrollable vortex of a webpage into the tactile intimacy of one hell of a reading experience.
These tales, not longer than 140 characters, explore the dramatic potential of brevity through micro-narratives that build worlds, bring them down, laugh at death, and mourn the moon.
Tales on Tweet is meant for all sorts of people. The one who is constantly reading and the one wanting to read constantly.