Jennifer Egan’s Black Box and The Short Story

Last week I read Black Box by Jennifer Egan, a truly remarkable short story first published on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. Of course I personally wasn’t waiting around each day for a tweet, I read it all in one go published online by The New Yorker, but it’s an interesting concept. The idea of reading something slowly enough to have ample time to digest it, and potentially waiting in anticipation of the next snippet, makes tweeting a truly interesting method of publishing. And as a story, I thought it was simply wonderful.

black box

Set in a futuristic world, the main character is on an espionage mission, gathering information from her ‘Designated Mate’. The story, using the second person, reads like a set of instructions. It’s didactic and straightforward, which I absolutely loved. I imagined it as reflective of her training, telling her what to do in every possible scenario.

This story is just the right amount of believable. The protagonist has a camera in her eyes, buttons for different purposes all over her body, and a strange detachment from her real life, her life with her loving husband. We don’t quite know how she ended up being a spy, all we know is that she is carrying out her duty for the government, and that she’s not getting paid. The writing is wonderfully descriptive and the plot is engaging.

Follow this link if you fancy having a read. I would definitely recommend it!

Jennifer Egan’s story inspired me to write my own 140 character short story – except mine is only 140 characters in total. To be honest it’s more like one of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories but never mind! This is the first time I’ve published my own creative writing on my blog so here goes nothing:

Wild roses grow taller than the oak fence, their colours popping: white, red, pink, peach. I reach out. Blood appears. The white rose bites.

Hope you enjoyed! Over and out –


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