So Few Words, So Much Story


Images from Teju Cole’s Twitter page


Don’t have time to read a book? Teju Cole’s Twitter page just may be your perfect, short-on-time solution. He reads NYC newspaper stories from the early 1900’s and retells their stories in concise, 140-character tweets. The results are almost like poetry: usually poignant, sometimes funny, and very often tragic. Some are eerily similar to news stories we read today, and they all give us a timeless glimpse at humanity — flaws, absurdities, and all. Here are a few of our favorites:


Bond, on trial for murder in Brooklyn, is not the kind of man to shoot his own daughter (the bullet was meant for his wife).


The shaft at Myrtle Avenue is deep, the boulder above it, immense, and Vonlonsky, working below, dead.


Children are a blessing. Expressing a dissenting opinion, some mother abandoned her 2-month-old at East 115th Street.


Sing Lee, of West 37th Street, who has a laundry to clean your clothes, and opium to cloud your mind, was jailed for the latter service.


At Court Street, Mrs Flanagan and her dinner guest were found two days later, still seated. Gas leak.


If you have a machine that makes dollar bills, it’s best not to boast about it, John Surecicki, of East 25th Street, now knows.


Joyriding between cars on the New Jersey Rail, Murphy, 16, lost his footing, and his legs.


With so many people saying Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will bring about the death of literature and intelligent thought, it’s nice to have artists like Teju who use social media to create great work and show us that creativity and story will find a way to survive. Follow Teju on Twitter @tejucole, and read/listen to an NPR interview about his work by clicking here.

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