The Twitterer: Lemon Hound talks to Arjun Basu

LH: I know you as a Twitterer, Arjun, but didn’t you also publish a collection of stories called Squishy with DC Books? Is that your first book?

AB: Squishy was my first; it came out last spring. It was a compact book and I didn’t think I’d be writing even shorter stories but there you go

LH: You were the editor of EnRoute Magazine. Do you still edit or do you write full time? Did Twitter intrigue or distract you from other work?

AB: I was EiC of enRoute for 6 yrs. I’m now Ed Director of Spafax, the publisher of enRoute among other mags. So I have a full time job + write.

LH: Twitter is touted as a new form of story but Lydia Davis and Anne Carson have been writing this way all along. Who are your twitterfluences?

AB: It’s not a new form of story, just a new delivery system. It’s so immediate. I started doing this on a lark. And then got obsessed. Still am

LH: Hemingway’s famous one line short story “For sale. Baby shoes. Never Worn” has spawned many variations. Were you aware of it before Twitter?

AB: Well Hemingway’s an influence on my writing period. Yes, I was aware of that story. Is there a writer that isn’t? The short short isn’t new.

LH: Conceptual writing-such as Christian Bok’s “Eunoia”-has long made use of constraints. Structure is freedom. Is the constraint what attracts?

AB: The 140 character count is attractive, yes. It creates the underlying premise for my Twisters. It’s what makes the form. It’s the only rule.

LH: Is there anyone you follow with excitement? Who makes you laugh? Is there anyone out there doing anything remotely similar to your project?

AB: There’s much great writing on Twitter. But mostly there’s a lot of wit. I find it’s a great forum for comedy. What do they say about brevity

LH: You are Twittering a serial narrative are you not? Are you privileging each piece? Can you see a whole yet? Or are you worrying about that?

AB: I’m not doing a linear narrative, no. Each tweet stands on its own. There are themes that reoccur but each Twister is a wholly formed story.

LH: Do you have one main character, or a cast of many characters that appear in one scene after another? Is the narrative singular or polyvocal?

AB: When I look back I will see some voices that keep turning up in the Twisters. But each Twister takes on different voices and different POVs.

LH: What are your plans for the project? Will these pieces transform into a novel? Will it be a conventional book? Will it demand “new” readers?

AB: I don’t know. I have an agent shopping the idea. I see a small(ish) book. I see illustrations. I see an e-book component and maybe a series.

LH: Some of your posts are very funny. One quickly gets the sense of a heart breaking, heart broken, and relentless wooer of women. Is that you?

AB: Is any writing OF the author? That’s a perennial question in all forms of writing. In a way, asking the question legitimizes what I’m doing.

LH: Thanks for the conversation, Arjun. People can find and follow you at @arjunbasu, right? Now can we end with a few of your favourite Tweets?

AB: What I would suggest is anyone interested go to a site like Favrd or Favotter and see what the Twitter community thinks are my best Twisters

Sample Twitters from Arjun Basu

_. He went to the post office everyday to ask her out but couldn’t. One day, he found the courage. I’m not into you snail mail types, she said.
_. 12:35 PM Apr 5th from twhirl
_. They hiked along the trail, past windblown trees and bush and over rocky scree. He stopped finally and said to her: I think we’re alone now.
_. 11:46 AM Apr 5th from twhirl
_. They sit side by side and watch the rain fall. The sky is the color of steel. We should, he says. But you don’t even know my name, she says.
_. 7:57 AM Apr 5th from web
_. _.
_. Al saw the last plum at the same time as Jane. She was wearing five inch heels. And they hurt Al that much more as he reached for the fruit.
6:12 PM Apr 4th from web

From favotter

They sat around a table discussing strategy. About what they had no idea. But they had to do something. And so the lies told were tremendous
arjunbasu/Arjun Basu posted at 2009-04-07 21:26:08 11 favs

She giggled when the sailors tried to pick up her up only because she was going to drive her mother crazy saying seamen over and over again.
arjunbasu/Arjun Basu posted at 2009-04-06 16:24:19 14 favs

From Favrd.
Just picked up @arjunbasu ‘s book ‘Squishy’. I’ll let you guys know whether or not to keep following him.
(myr) from Jumping in the air
1 week, 6 days ago
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Favorited 3 times

He hoped that @arjunbasu would get 141 characters to work with one day, so that more would follow. In his ice cream truck, he wept quietly.
(C.m. Velazquez) from The Windmills of Your Mind
on 6 Mar 2009
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Favorited 5 times
Arjun is a writer and editor from Montreal. Last year, he published his first book of short stories, Squishy. He is now working on a novel.