Crime Novelist Roger Morris Publishes Novel One Sentence at a Time on Twitter
British crime novelist Roger Morris is currently releasing his 2007 novel "A Gentle Axe" via Twitter in an attempt to generate publicity for the novel's two sequels "A Vengeful Longing," published this year, and "A Razor Wrapped in Silk," which will be published in 2010.

His novel (no shit) is "Crime and Punishment" fanfiction, a thing that every writer has secretly wanted to do, but has never had the guts to attempt.

The story follows the continuing adventures of menacing, jolly homicide detective Porfiry Petrovich as he solves the gruesome murders of a lynched peasant and a bludgeoned dwarf packed inside a suitcase.

The book is available here, if you'd rather read it all in one sitting.

You remember Porfiry Petrovich: he's the literate, good-humored sleuth who solves crimes instantly and then slowly drives the culprit insane through psychological manipulation and mental cruelty.

"Just one more question..."

Dostoevsky directly influenced Poe, which means that Petrovich may be fiction's first detective-hero, discounting Dickens' Inspector Bucket of "Bleak House" who solved all his crimes by beating leads out of sick orphans.

Forced to deal with a corrupt and incompetent police bureau in "Crime and Punishment," Petrovich uses the only tool available to him to bring Raskolnikov to justice: the crushing weight of Raskolnikov's own guilt.

While publishing a novel through Twitter is bold and provocative (not to mention free (and also probably a pain in the ass to type)), Morris' gesture will probably not catch on as a common method of distributing literature, although it is certainly worth a goddamn try.

It's tough to read fiction in such toneless, attenuated bleats as "There, tucked into the belt of his trousers was a short handled axe." And then? What else? I WANT TO KNOW.

Even if Morris does manage to Twitter a new sentence once an hour, that's not how you'll read this book as a subscriber unless you sit there refreshing the page all day.

Imagine a slobbering, bloodshot punk coming up to you on the street on your way to work and screaming a short sentence into your face and then running away:

"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since!" he shrieks.

You reach in your pocket for loose change, but the punk has already run away, looking for another victim. You shake your head sadly. Down economy, indeed.

The next day he is there again. He leaps out from behind a mailbox:

"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had!"

You try to stop him. To flag him down and ask: "what is the meaning!" But he is unexpectedly nimble, and you only manage to clench his shoulder for a split second before he wrenches out of your grasp and spins away down the street. His red sleeveless gloves form a blur as he speeds through an intersection and out of sight.

The next day, as you lock your front door, he is there again, waiting:

"He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that!"

He begins to cry and then he pulls down his pants and waggles his floppy penis in your face. Stunned, you do not chase him this time as he leaps over your garden hedge and is once again gone.

What will tomorrow bring?

Is this the future of literature?

Perhaps the cryptic rantings of the schizophrenic (and fleet of foot) have always hidden the finest prose, and perhaps Twitter will finally let us hear all the furious, staccato perfection of their occluded craft.

Or perhaps books were meant to be read in paragraphs, for hours and hours, with no one telling you when to stop or taking whole days between full stops and commas to carry on the story.

Anyway, if you like some of Morris' sentences, you ought to buy his full book.

Posted by miracle on Wed, 18 Mar 2009 04:32:30 -0400 -- permanent link

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