Review: 420 Characters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Intellectually I think the concept behind this book is great. Fiction posted to a social network regularly and within the boundaries provided by that medium. I get excited for any creative use of such services, especially when it encourages creativity and reading. But trying to take them all in, one after another, in a bound and printed format can be a bit overwhelming.
My complaints are primarily just less intense versions of the ones I had about the book Not Quite What I Was Planning. In that book, people were trying too hard to be way too deep with way too little by writing 6 word stories about themselves. In 420 Characters, a single relatively talented writer is writing short stories within the confines explained by the book’s title. But the biggest problem I had with Not Quite… was that it was hard to get drawn in or care in any way about the stories therein because you didn’t have the time to get invested and there were just SO MANY more to read. The 6 word stories started to run together and my eyes would glaze over. In 420, the same thing happens — but to a lesser degree that was clearly directly proportional to the longer stories in this one.
I could see how each one of the stories could work very well as an individual narrative that showed up in someone’s facebook feed. They could read it, carry it away with them, digest it throughout the day, and be content with it by the time the next one came along. But when read as a singular block in book form, it’s a bit overwhelming (or underwhelming, depending on your perspective). My suggestion on how to best enjoy each story individually is to make this your bathroom book. Or your before-bed book. Or breakfast book. Just pick a regular time where you’ll only read one or maybe two stories then put it down. It’ll take you a while to get through that way, but you’ll probably appreciate it more.