Man Claims to Be First Tweet Novelist, Is Wrong

07/16/2009 10:53 AM |

Matt Stewart, yawping from his online niche over at self-promoting ecosystem The Huffington Post, claimed on Tuesday to be releasing the first-ever Twitter novel. Some gems from his simultaneously defensive, self-congratulatory press release of a post, after the jump.

“I do think you might actually read a few 140-character snippets of my novel, and—based on that sampling of Junot Diaz-style wordplay meets Jonathan Franzenish multilayered plotting—consider reading more, and even sinking some money into it.”


“Amid this information maelstrom, tweeting my novel provides the ultimate in easy sampling and information triage before purchase.”


“At just one tweet per day I’m moving faster than traditional publishers. I can get instant feedback from readers […] It’s an ubercool way to grow a community.”


“I wrote this novel for lovers of literary fiction, with long and loving sentences, exploding with imaginative descriptions and inventive plot twists and characters I hope will stick with you for a while.”

Just, ugh.

Ok, this isn’t really a Twitter-bashing post, insofar as I’m still disinclined to separate an information technology from the people who use it (you know, blaming the printing press for Protestantism), but I will say that Twitter certainly makes it easier for people to present their stupidity to the world. The best part about this Matt Stewart post, however, is how quickly he was shown to be wrong… the very first comment:

“Your novel isn’t the first. I began the first original literary novel @smallplaces on Twitter on April 25, 2008. It’s been written about in the U.K. Guardian,, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, Bohemian,com,, Knock Literary Mag out of Antioch University and a lot more. Just Google “Twitter Novel.” You’ll find Nick Belardes and @smallplaces.”

9 Comment

  • I actually did a lot of searching before I claimed to be the first original literary novel on Twitter. I didn’t want to make a mistake…

    I think you’re right about anyone writing a blog these days on platforms that get lots of traffic. Makes it easy to provide a false statement to the world. Hopefully the guy will have learned from what he did, and that is, when you go public, you open yourself up to criticism, skepticism and the Internet’s own way of checks and balances.

    Who knows, maybe some old Twitter novelist will pop out of the woodwork and be able to prove a Twitter lit book prior to mine. There was erotica, sci-fi, an adaptations and some group projects before @smallplaces. Still hard to believe no other Twitter novels prior have been uncovered…

    Thanks for your post, Johhny!

  • BTW, he also posted the same article on TechCrunch.

  • If you look at under storytellers, novels, etc, you can find more twitter novels listed.

    Also on wikipedia there is a listing for Twiction done at the beginning of this month that lists a few places to find other twitter fiction.

    They can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look.

  • I honestly think the first Twitter novel was Peter Handke’s “Weight of the World”

  • Fuck, stupid html in comments… you’d think i’d figure this shit out by now (link to review of “Novels in Three Lines”):…

  • hahaha… Johnny, I mess that stuff up all the time. I think it’s all interesting and innovative literary history. I’m glad there are folks like you to help sort it out.

  • @Twittilate has been writing an erotic twitter novel for over a year.

  • Hey guys, Matt Stewart here. I poked around and found that nobody had RELEASED a complete novel on Twitter – people had only WRITTEN novels on Twitter or republished old novels. After I launched, I did hear about Jim McCormack, who tweeted his wife’s novel after she died – a sad and beautiful story. He may have me on being first, and I’m glad to have his support via his comments elsewhere. He seems like a good man, and his devotion as a husband is inspiring.

    As to my accuracy, I also qualified all my statements with “as far as I can tell.” There’s always something else in the blogosphere, and I wouldn’t try to make any web-based assertion without a caveat like that.

    Pulling back for the big picture, it’s pretty clear this extra attention is great for all Twitter writers/novelists, and I’m psyched to see the experimentation continue.

    See you guys at the Christmas party?

    Rock on

  • Matt et al – I did publish a complete novel on twitter. And as far as I can tell, it was the first to be completed in October of 2008 at When I first started to post it in May of 2008, I had been inspired hearing about a novel being written by Tom Merritt, Molly Wood, Jason Howell and Leo Leporte, 140 called 140novel starting in January of 2008. They stopped however after about 38 entries. The novel Cowboy, was written by my late wife Alice McCormick, who died of cancer in July of 2007. She would have loved the idea of publishing this way. 3501 tweets later it was done. The forward reading version can be seen at or