iPhone Literature in 333 Words or Less

09/21/2009 11:14 AM |

This post’s goal will be to run exactly 333 words. Why? Well, it’s not because the editors at L have given this intern a peculiar allotment of space, with the sole purpose of watching him sweat, I think. Instead, this endeavor will preview what reading fiction on the new iPhone application Triplequick might be like, and to examine the implications of such fiction in conjunction with the focus of the attention-deficient iPhone generation.

This app is the latest offering from Featherproof, an independent publisher from Chicago. Their specialty is mini-books that can be downloaded as pdfs ready to be crafted into tiny origami volumes, or bought as pre-folded copies. This seems charming at first, and any unique attempt to get the reader involved is appreciated, but my fine motor skills are more in tune with an infant’s than a functional adult and I would be tempted to just read the pdf. It is however this contradiction in the nature of the product, both electronic and physical, that makes Featherproof’s new app relevant to the conversation about the future of print as well as the quality of fiction.

Triplequick fictions span 3 iPhone screens and include an author bio and picture. The coming launch will include fiction by authors including Michael Kimball (Dear Everybody) and Shane Jones (Light Boxes), younger writers exploring the ephemeral realms of imagination.

The reason you should buy this app, if one holds to the tired assertion that anything democratic is necessarily good, is the fact that the user can take a self-portrait, write a bio, and then poke away at his tiny little keyboard until there are 333 words on the screen—as long as it’s “fun” according to Featherpoof’s website. Now, I’m all for getting everyone involved with writing, especially since good fiction is not dependent on length, but let’s remember that, though the published fictions by established authors will be short, chances are they took longer to write than the subway ride it takes to read them. There is even a good possibility that the pieces were written over the course of days or weeks, with many drafts and revisions. The glib tone on Featherproof’s website and their assertion that in Triplequick offerings one will have “never seen so few words pushed to such limits,” has this intern questioning whether or not the limits of 333 words really need to be pushed at all, or at least any further than the words themselves will go. After all, if this post had actually kept to its aforementioned task, it would have ended at “takes to read them”.