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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Twitterature, written by University of Chicago sophomore Alex Aceman, satirizes great works of literature.

From literature to Twitterature

Alex Aciman was 19 when he took a leap of faith and bet on Twitter’s ability to satirize his favorite literary classics (as well as Twilight and some others)in bursts of 140 characters.

Despite J.K. Rowling’s cease-and-desist letters, the venture paid off. The then-sophomore at the University of Chicago’s book, entitled “twitterature,” was picked

up by the Penguin Group, who printing it in three languages. It was released in

retailers across the globe (including Australian Urban Outfitters).

The Wall Street Journal said “twitterature” had “Shakespeare rolling over in his grave.” The rest of the reviews covered the gamut. I caught up with Alex three years later. Along with his book and life after becoming a published author before turning 20, we talked about satire, Serge Gainsbourg, and why one of the authors of a Twitter-based satire didn’t have a twitter account before this interview.

DC: so it took me way too long to find your account on twitter; why write a book in tweet-

form? Is that Serge Gainsbourg?

AA: because at the time twitter was just really taking off and it felt like a logical point of

origin for a project like this. And yes.

DC: Did you plan on publishing from the beginning, or did it start purely for self-

enjoyment? What was the writing process like?

AA: Publishing. As Biggie says, you have to "know that cash rules." That doesn't mean I

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did not enjoy myself a lot.

DC: Did you plan on publishing from the beginning, or did it start purely for self-

enjoyment? What was the writing process like?

AA: the process was 1-read books 2-be funny 3-figure out how twitter works, 4-get that

on paper. It all happened on macbooks in ~10 days

DC: Most/least fav to tweet? Easiest/Hardest? Are people allowed to be tht productive?

Are you allowed to answer with multiple tweets? (Ed: Yes, he was.)

AA: most-Dante least-Twilight Hardest-The Wasteland because I had to get inventive

with Eliots style. Stendhal wrote 550 pgs in 58 days.

AA:  I wasn't writing a great novel but productivity is all relative. Hitler defeated Poland in

1 wk. Anything's possible.

DC: Was that because you had to read twilight? Why include it, then?

AA: Twilight was one of the few I didn't read. I got a girl who had to tell me what

happened. Sounds like the dumbest book ever though.

DC: You didn't have a twitter before the book. Was it hard for you to take the tweeting

concept seriously for the project?

AA: It's hard for me to take most things people do seriously.

DC: what was/has been the best part about writing the book? Any surprises?

AA: I was sent to Paris for a week to do interviews. It felt like a very solitary Hard Days.

AA: After the book people had a lot more faith in me, and are waiting for me to do

something. My mom still thinks I'm lazy.

DC: what about the book's reception?

AA: Decent in the US, even though nobody tried to get it sold at Urban. Australia and

Ireland love it still.

DC: looking back, is there anything you'd do differently?

AA:  Didn't know hash-tags existed. Probably would have thrown a few more of those in.

Maybe not, it's cheap humor.

DC: (going back 2 first answer) so twitter was more of the means to an end? Satire in

tweets more than satire of tweets?

AA: Both, very much so. But don't forget the literature part. That was also pretty

important too.

DC: what is it that you don't like about twitter? too restrictive? too much apathy?

AA:  Its a waste of time. Its ok to be on the internet but ultimately I have things to do,

places to go, people to see, reeses to eat.

AA: There are a lot of stupid people and twitter gives them even more of a voice. Also

orthography goes out the window. 140 is arbitrary.

DC: isn't the way things are spelled always changing anyway? How else are we supposed to

spell "lol"?

AA: In twitterature it was spelled LaughL for antique british affectation.

DC: is there anyone you would have liked to see tweet? Gainsbourg? Shakespeare?


AA: With the exception of Hitler, I'd rather just have a drink with them.

DC: on that note, how do twitter-interviews end?

AA: The same way real interviews end: when you have enough material to incriminate

me if needed.

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