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<nettime> Guardian: a novel about people who say they're working on nove
nettime's_yo_dawg on Sat, 2 Aug 2014 10:23:01 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Guardian: a novel about people who say they're working on novels


<http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/jul/31/cory-arcangel-working-on-my-novel-twitter-book>

Guardian > Jonathan Jones on Art Blog

A novel about people who say they're working on novels? How novel

   Artist Cory Arcangel's book Working on My Novel is a collection of
   tweets by people declaring they're beavering away at their literary
   masterpieces. Is this depressing or inspiring?


   Despite dark declarations that the novel is dead, that this
   quintessentially modern literary form, invented (as we know it) in
   18th-century Britain cannot survive the age of social media, artist
   Cory Arcangel's new book, Working on My Novel has just been
   published, contradicting those naysayers.

   For it seems a lot of people out there are doing just that. Not only
   are they working on "my novel", but they tweet that they're "working on
   my novel". Arcangel's discovery of a vast online community of aspiring
   novelists is hugely reassuring to techno-believers who would hate to
   admit that some of the cultural effects of the internet and social
   media might be, y'know ... destructive.

     A bottle of red, a hot bath, and working on my novel until my man
     gets off work. Sounds like a fantastic start to the holiday. :)
     -- Cheryl CottrellSmith ( {AT} CottrellSmithC) December 23, 2012

   But of course Arcangel's book is not reassuring at all. This New York
   artist is the most interesting exponent of digitally derived art
   around, and that is not because he is some inane art-as-code
   evangelist. Working on My Novel is a deeply ambiguous document. All
   these people have tweeted that they're Working on My Novel - adding
   that they're taking a break by the pool, or too tired to write any more
   today, or writing while eating cereal and watching TV. How many of
   these novels will ever get finished?

   Working on My Novel is a document of distraction, a portrait of a world
   that may either be humming with creativity or lost in time-wasting
   forms of micro-literary expression (hey commenters, I've given you a
   nice line there ...)

   Jonathan Franzen, who really does work on his novels, famously
   disconnects himself from the digital hum of the modern world when he
   writes, even going so far as to block up his internet connection so he
   can't be tempted to use it. He certainly does not use the hashtag
   "working on my novel". Now that Philip Roth has retired from
   writing novels, perhaps he would have time to tweet - not that he ever
   would - but when he was writing he clearly cut himself off from all
   forms of distracting blather.

     working on my novel and having to add words to the dictionary such
     as "swagger" "bromance" and "jiggin" to describe a certain
     character...;]
     -- Keela ( {AT} Keelers63) January 15, 2013

   Does Working on My Novel in truth reveal the slow death of serious
   fiction, as literary endeavour becomes a mere social pose?

   No. For Working on My Novel is, of course, itself a kind of novel -
   albeit one sampled from the real world, like another novel by an
   artist, Andy Warhol's a. Where Warhol recorded conversations and
   transcribed them as a: A Novel, Cory Arcangel - a big
   Warhol fan - has collected tweets about working on novels into a novel
   about working on novels.

   As a funny and frustrating series of glimpses into stories we'll never
   hear the end of, a portrait of writers or supposed writers at work, or
   what Marcel Duchamp called a "delay", Working on My Novel has many
   great antecedents in the history of the novel.

     Eminem - Survival There's something about this song that gives me
     the energy boost to do my studies, working on my novel and songs
     -- Andrew Le ( {AT} BlackPhynix) October 20, 2013

   Even before the emergence of the modern novel proper, Miguel de
   Cervantes incorporated false starts into his prose epic Don
   Quixote. At one point the story is interrupted when the first part of
   the book is revealed to be a manuscript that Cervantes purportedly
   found in Toledo. In 18th-century Britain, Laurence Sterne's endlessly
   self-deconstructing novel Tristram Shandy was published to
   sensation and controversy. In Italo Calvino's funny and sad
   (post)modern masterpiece If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, the
   characters are linked by their desperation as readers to fathom a
   bewildering succession of books that start well but never get far
   before they are replaced by the next unfinished tale.

   In fact, the problem of survival for the literary novel today is not
   how to write traditional stories. It is how to find new ways to play
   the games of self-consciousness that have been taken to such ingenious
   heights by such destroyers and creators of the novel as Cervantes,
   Sterne and Calvino.

   In this struggle to find new ways to joke about the impossibility of
   fiction, Working on My Novel feels like a joyous move forward. Cory
   Arcangel has created something deeply liberating, at once cynical and
   optimistic. Once again, as always, the novel is reborn in the
   contemplation of its own death.


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