The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 19, 2012

Lee Duran: Twitter fiction's brevity is pretty witty

By Lee Duran
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — We dedicated readers appreciate a good laugh now and then. When I ran into “Twitter fiction,” that’s what I got, big time. In fact, I’m still laughing.

Here’s the setup: The Guardian, a British newspaper, challenged well-known writers to come up with a story of no more than 140 characters. Anyone who thinks that’s easy should give it a try, which I didn’t. These are so good, I’d have no place to go but down.

Some of the best responses:

Geoff Dyer: I know I said that if I lived to 100 I’d not regret what happened last night. But I woke up this morning and a century had passed. Sorry.

Blake Morrison: Blonde, GSOH, 28. Great! Ideal mate! Fix date. Tate. Nervous wait. She’s late. Doh, just my fate. Wrong candidate. Blond - and I’m straight.

David Lodge: “Your money or your life!” “I’m sorry, my dear, but you know it would kill me to lose my money,” said the partially deaf miser to his wife.

Jeffrey Archer: “It’s a miracle he survived,” said the doctor. “It was God’s will,” said Mrs. Schicklgruber. “What will you call him?” “Adolf,” she replied.

Hari Kunzu: I’m here w/ disk. Where r u? Mall too crowded to see. I don’t feel safe. What do you mean you didn’t send any text? Those aren’t your guys?

SJ Watson: She thanks me for the drink, but says we’re not suited. I’m a little “intense.” So what? I followed her home. She hasn’t seen anything yet.

Helen Fielding: OK. Should not have logged on to your email but suggest if going on don’t use our children’s names as password.

Simon Armitage: Blaise Pascal didn’t tweet and neither did Mark Twain. When it came to writing something short & sweet neither Blaise nor Mark had the time.

Charlie Higson: Jack was sad in the orphanage til he befriended a talking rat who showed him a hoard of gold under the floor. Then the rat bit him & he died.

Jilly Cooper: Tom sent his wife’s valentine to his mistress and vice versa. Poor Tom’s a-cold and double dumped.

Rachel Johnson: Rose went to Eve’s house but she wasn’t there. But Eve’s father was. Alone. One thing led to another. He got 10 years.

I could go on, but I won’t. My favorites? Rachel Johnson and Jeffrey Archer. Adolph, indeed!

Most popular author

The most popular author on is Sylvia Day, according to GalleyCat. She’s been running second to E.L. James for weeks, maybe months, and now James has fallen to second. Both write erotica.

The rest of the top five on Amazon: Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins and Phillip K. Dick.

Amazon Author Rank is based on the sales of all of an author’s books on and is updated hourly. It is not an exaggeration to say that some authors spend more time checking their ranking than writing more books.

Time for Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy will come out in an unabridged audiobook version distributed by Audible.  

Don’t commit to this unless you’ve got lots of time. It clocks in at a staggering 54 hours and nine minutes of listening time.

Huge debuts

“The Mark of Athena,” by Rick Riordan, was the No. 1 best-seller for the first week of October, Nielsen BookScan reports. It sold 240,000 copies, and that’s a whole bunch.

The “Athena” book surprised me because I’d never heard of it or of the author, so I looked it up. It’s the third installment of “The Heroes of Olympus” series, which gave me a clue. In second place was “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly at 118,000 copies.

How unusual is this? According to Publishers Weekly, six books had debuted with sales exceeding 100,000 copies in 2012. That number is now raised to eight.

“The Casual Vacancy” fell to third in its second week, dropping 32 percent to 105,000 copies sold for the week Ñ bringing its two-week total to 261,000 copies at outlets tracked by BookScan.

Other debuts were judged “good” as well, although their numbers are way below the top two: John Sandford’s “Mad River” sold 30,000 copies; Rachel Renee Russell’s “Dork Diaries 5” sold 23,000 copies; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Total Recall” sold 21,000 copies; and Stephen Colbert’s “America Again” sold 20,000 copies.