- He would have been great at this.
If there’s one medium in this world that tugs at the heartstrings, educates, and quietly expands our inner lives in much the same way as thoughtfully crafted longform writing, it would be Twitter. At least, that seems like a fair assumption given the amount of time Brooklyn’s literary community (and the book world at large) seems to spend there.
And really, besides being a legitimately useful place for authors, publishers, booksellers, and their audiences to connect, it’s also just a pretty solid way to kill time (and an easier one to get away with than, say, dropping everything you’re doing to quietly blow 45 minutes reading a book at your desk while your boss looks on, angry and bewildered). As such, we took it upon ourselves to put together a selected crash course, presented in no particular order, of essential Twitter feeds to help you keep tabs of the local (or locally relevant) lit community, whether your interests lean towards readings, jokes about industry controversies, long reads, or creepy vintage book covers. If you can think of a more productive way to spend a work day, we’d very much like to hear it.
If you’re trying to really immerse yourself in the world of literary Twitter (that seems like it might be a real, specific goal for some people?), it’s probably worth following just about every major publishing house out there, unless their feed consists solely of year-old links to their authors’ Goodreads pages. But if you had to pick just one, DUMBO-based Melville House’s feed is particularly great, and reads like it’s maintained by real, thinking humans.
Is every boy who grows up in LA exactly like Dylan McKay? If you say yes, I will move tomorrow.
— Emma Straub (@emmastraub) September 11, 2013
Ask anyone anything about how authors should, in an ideal world, be utilizing social media, and Emma Straub will likely be the first name to pass their lips. It would probably even be fair to call her the Tom Hanks of the book world, insofar as they are both notoriously nice people and unexpectedly delightful Twitter presences? Either way, whether she’s tweeting about baked goods, her new baby (congratulations, Emma!), writing habits, or work she loves from other local authors, Straub’s avatar is always one you’ll be happy to see popping up in your feed.
“Sexual Healing” came on the bookstore Pandora so we’re going to have a volunteer hand out condoms to everyone. (P.S. We have free condoms.)
— Housing Works Books (@HousingWorksBks) September 12, 2013
Housing Works Bookstore
Not technically a Brooklyn institution, sure, but the team at Housing Works consistently works overtime to champion a lot of our borough’s authors, and out of all the local lit events happening in a given week, theirs are usually guaranteed to be the most fun (the in-store bar doesn’t hurt here). Stay tuned for links to their podcast, the latest schedule for can’t-miss readings and events, and, of course, the best times to buy heavily discounted books.
Promised myself I’d spend today writing. If it happens to be Breaking Bad / Orange is the New Black fan fiction, so be it.
— Maris Kreizman (@mariskreizman) September 2, 2013
As the creator of Slaughterhouse 90210, a longtime denizen of the publishing industry, and a prolific host of local readings (including our own Literary Upstart competition), it’s not a huge surprise that Kreizman has a solid Twitter game. Expect equally useful updates about TV and local lit events you should know about.
People assume we were named after the Pixies song, which isn’t true. But makes us glad we didn’t go with our first idea: Big Pimpin’ Mag
— Gigantic magazine (@Giganticmag) August 30, 2013
Sure, following Gigantic means an easy way to keep tabs on the magazine, its contributors, its events, and links to other good work. But it’s also a means of staying up to date on their wonderfully macabre Tumblr, where perturbing art, author quotes, and book covers abound.
anybody know how many pages Billy Crystal devotes to his “jazz man” character in his new memoir?
— Alex Shephard (@alex_shephard) September 10, 2013
As one of the co-founders of Full Stop and part of the Melville House social media team, it is literally his job to spend the entire day finding weird, interesting lit-related things lurking on the internet. Expect to see lots of them.
As the founder of the much-loved Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Julia Fierro has already done more than her fair share of good for local writers. But she does one better on Twitter, with a refreshingly positive series of recommendations, both for events and anything good she happens to be reading. If you’re looking to do your part in supporting Brooklyn-based authors, hers is a good example to follow.
“With warn regards”: the unintentionally accurate sign-off of a spammy publicity email I just received.
— Benjamin Samuel (@benasam) July 22, 2013
Electric Literature’s co-editor can be counted on for tweeting highlights from his own magazine, sure, but he’s also a pretty keen observer of industry news you may have missed, and just generally a source of refreshing honesty.
“When you finish your novel, if money is not a desperate priority … put it in a drawer.” hahahahahahahahahaha
— Emily Gould (@EmilyGould) September 9, 2013
Reading a book in an app that encourages “social reading” and possibly have never been more annoyed in my life
— Emily Gould (@EmilyGould) September 16, 2013
One of the more brutally honest feeds out there (in a good way), and also a place for reliably sane perspective on whatever minor controversy people happen to be tweeting about on a given day.
A truly great resource for up and coming writers (they put out a constant stream of submission tips and opportunities), and also, with their cheery reminders that rejection is a pretty universal phenomenon, a major comfort to all of us.
Yes, we make a lot of jokes about him abandoning Brooklyn for Manhattan, but, you know, it comes from a genuine place of love. Everyone’s still sad he left. And even without location-specific bias, Whitehead is one of the smartest, most consistently funny and self aware authors on Twitter. No small feat.
Thinking of Great Writers out w/ a book every 10yrs…is this b/c they too are crippled with self-doubt, loathing & emotional entanglements?
— Kate Zambreno (@daughteroffury) September 3, 2013
Like maybe Pynchon wrote his last book in a year but the rest of the time he was paralyzed in an armchair or furiously emailing w/ a lover?
— Kate Zambreno (@daughteroffury) September 3, 2013
The Heroines and Green Girl author can be counted on for interesting, vehement perspective on the lit world, the patriarchy, and the unfortunately significant overlap between the two.
By professional necessity, a lot of publishers and agents solely make appearances on Twitter when they have authors to promote. Which, of course, we won’t begrudge them, it’s part of their job. But that doesn’t mean people like Waxman Leavell co-founder Scott Waxman aren’t a welcome change of pace, and an excellent source of intelligently curated publishing news.
Mellow Pages Library
Again, if you’re going for a comprehensive overview, it really is worth following every local indepdent bookstore for updates on in-store events or opportune times to stalk (“friend court”) your preferred authors-slash-booksellers. For friendly updates and dark quotations from the books they have on hand, though, these guys are consistently the best.
Happening NOW: Greenlight’s FIRST EVER near naked fan-dance performance—Run, don’t walk!!!!
— Greenlight Bookstore (@greenlightbklyn) September 7, 2013
A beloved local institution, sure, but also a source of eclectic staff recommendations, cryptic literary quotes, and inspiration to get out of the house and go see some local readings.
Plotting drinking games for tonight’s viewing of “Salinger.” Random celebs talking with great authority? Drink. Portentous music? Drink.
— Sadie Stein (@SadieStein) September 8, 2013
As a Paris Review editor and Jezebel alum, it can be safely be said that Stein knows a thing or two about both quality writing and what makes for good entertainment on the internet. A potent combination.
The Coffin Factory
As one of the newer local literary magazines (they launched in late 2011 and currently have five issues under their belt), Coffin Factory’s sharp, straightforward approach to showcasing good writing has been a welcome new source of intelligent reading material. Same goes for their Twitter feed.
Lapham’s Quarterly editor, and also, a reliable source for entertaining Brooklyn and book-related marginalia.
Another person whose job it is to be on the internet all day (his book for Harper about social media is due out in 2014). As such, expect lots of links to things you’ll actually stop what you’re doing to read.
Childhood friend was arrested for murder. I should write an overwrought essay about it for Paris Review Daily. Get 13 RTs and $50.
— Jessa Crispin (@thebookslut) September 10, 2013
Admittedly, for a list of locally relevant Twitter feeds, Bookslut’s Berlin-based editor Jessica Crispin is pretty far-flung. But physical proximity aside, her musings are relentlessly on-point, and anyway, a little distance is healthy sometimes.
Luna Park Review
Even if it’s an incredibly good problem to have, the ever-growing proliferation of worthy literary journals is sort of an embarrassment of riches, and it can be hard for even the most dedicated readers to keep up. Enter Pennsylvania-based Luna Park Review, a wonderfully comprehensive reminder of essays, interviews, and even submission opportunities we swear we were going to get to on our own, at some point.
The Necessary Errors author, academic, and longtime Brooklyn resident tends to put out a good mix of both local news and off-the-beaten-path lit material (like the terrifying book in the above example). More generally, he has the ideal Twitter vibe of “smart person who seems like they would also be nice to be friends with.” A delicate balance.
“Greetings! I have mistakenly purchased a subscription to your publication thinking I was subscribing to The Paris Review.”
— n+1 (@nplusonemag) August 7, 2013
One of the better literary journal feeds out there, the N+1 team is reliable for genuinely entertaining in-office updates (a serious industry rarity), worthwhile long reads, and the occasional influx of cat-related material. In other words, exactly what you’d want from them.
Both a published novelist and prolific internet writer (his regular gig is at Blackbook, where he’s currently looking to start his very own literary feud), Klee’s feed is a solid mix of stream-of-consciousness updates, literary news, and internet ephemera.
A staggering Twitter presence for the sheer volume alone (and, it should be said, a lot of genuinely useful links). But also, an inspiration to us all, given that he manages to tweet so much while still fulfilling his duties as a New Yorker editor and regularly publishing excellent books of his own. The logical takeaway here? We actually don’t need to cut down on time spent on Twitter. Perfect.
“Life is ruined! The apocalypse is upon us! They added ‘landscape’ to the dictionary!”—people in 1602
— Teju Cole (@tejucole) August 29, 2013
Though Cole’s tweets aren’t particularly lit-specific and tend to veer more political, they’re often funny, always insightful, and his is one of the few feeds that seems to be followed by absolutely everyone. Not to be missed.
I just spent 2 minutes trying to fit a Proust quote into tweet form, but it can’t be done.
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) September 15, 2013
Yes, it’s a safe bet that a co-editor for Gigantic and a prolific contributor to publications like the Believer and Tin House would be a worthwhile person to follow if you’re at all interested in writing, or Brooklyn, or both. But really, it seems like the above series of tweets should be impetus enough.
Saw a guy who looked like Phillip Roth on a Citibike this morning then had a waking dream about an army of Phillip Roths on Citibikes.
— Jami Attenberg (@jamiattenberg) September 12, 2013
It seems fair to say that the Middlesteins author (and Word bookstore staffer) comes from the Emma Straub school of using Twitter to nice and generally useful-to-everybody ends. Great for keeping tabs on worthwhile local readings, links to her excellent Tumblr posts, goings-on in Greenpoint’s most beloved bookstore, and pleasant, informative interactions with other local authors.
Another particulraly well executed feed from a literary journal, Electric Lit is wonderfully reliable for tweeting great work other than their own, supporting local authors, and providing us all with solid mid-afternoon distraction material.
As the literary editor of Flavorwire and the founding editor of Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Diamond is nothing if not good at keeping his finger on the pulse of the local lit community at any given moment. If you’re ever wondering just what it is that everyone around you seems to be talking about, check in here.
Franzen published something! [grabs shotgun and pulls loved ones into panic room]
— Jacob Silverman (@silvermanjacob) September 13, 2013
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Franzen
Yeah, fine, we know Jonathan Franzen hates Twitter and thinks the rest of us are destructive, illiterate know-nothings for going anywhere near it. But isn’t that kind of trolling known to be the most singularly effective, attention-getting social media technique there is? So much so that you sort of wonder if this whole trumped-up controversy is just an elaborate, virtuosically executed publicity ruse? Whatever the intentions here, it’s pretty hard to deny that Franzen has a way of giving the people who pay attention to these things a lot of material to tweet about. One sort of shudders to think what we’d have to resort to if he ever stopped saying a bunch of crazy nonsense about things everyone else really likes. Best not to dwell on it.
Glad I made all my Franzen jokes before Yom Kippur.
— Jason Diamond (@imjasondiamond) September 13, 2013
the next time I see J Franz I’m going to say: “Twitter is for jokes. You love jokes!!!” then I guess just run away
— Emily Gould (@EmilyGould) September 14, 2013
Virginia K. Smith tweets semi-literate things @vksmith.