France’s Micro-news of 1906, Digitally Remastered

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By Neal Comment

I’ve told you about publishers using Twitter and the buzz they can generate, and I’ve written about novelists extending their worlds onto microblogs. But here’s a new twist: In the same way that the blog format has been used to republish the diaries of Samuel Pepys and George Orwell, along with Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, one Twitter account is steadily reproducing the early 20th-century newspaper dispatches in miniature that Félix Fénéon collected in Novels in Three Lines, recently reissued by New York Review Books.

This isn’t an NYRB project, though: The idea was hatched by Brooklyn-based writer Kio Stark, who started posting bits of Fénéon’s short-short-short reportage last week with the approval of the publisher and Luc Sante, who translated the book from the French. (One recent example: “A criminal virago, Mlle. Tulle, was sentenced by the Rouen court to ten years’ hard labor, while her lover got five.”) “It’s a brilliant idea,” NYRB managing editor Sara Kramer told me when I emailed her looking for the backstory. “I only wish we had thought of it.”