The jig is up for @CrankyKaplan and @Wise_Kaplan, the two fictionalized alter-egos of former New York Observer editor and current Condé Nast Traveler creative director Peter Kaplan. Slate today offers an overwhelmingly thorough exposition and analysis of the two 140-character caricatures.
Slate reveals that former Observer executive editor Peter Stevenson and fellow NYO alum Jim Windolf co-write both Twitter streams. Like many New York media nerds (us included), Slate’s Nathan Heller truly adores Wise and @CrankyKaplan. He states the literary value of the twin feeds in no uncertain terms:
Stevenson and Windolf, though, knew him as a boss, mentor, and eccentric. The Twitter parodies were meant to be an inside joke. Yet through their online comedy act, the journalists have nudged Twitter in a new, more literary direction. Unlike contrived and headache-inducing concepts like the “Twitter novel” or the serialized essay — long forms awkwardly broken into 140-character bits — the Kaplan narratives are colorful, varied, and fully wedded to the medium.
The sentences above have a lovely, faux-poetic economy at odds with the creepy encounter they describe. To conjure such a character and moment in just 136 characters, and with oblique humor and allusive style to boot, calls for a deftness that is rare in Web 2.0 prose. The best Wise Kaplan tweets are occasionally the most precise writing I read all week.
Anyway, go read the dang thing, and congratulations to Heller for solving the mystery.