Selected Tweets, by Tao Lin and Mira Gonzalez, comes out June 15. Through editorial selections and a change of medium, the two writers transformed the sound byte quality of a Twitter into a narrative arc, in which readers can track years of depression, discomfort, and really funny jokes. The tweets are scattered, disconnected, but made cohesive through the authors’ perpetual discontent combined with their efforts to connect to others, and their spirals through drug abuse when this fails.
This is the second of a two-part interview first with Gonzalez and then with Lin.
To what extent was this book a collaboration? How do your sections interact?
My side of the book has 12 drawings by Mira, and Mira's side has 12 drawings by me (in the finished copy, not the galley.) We chose 12 tweets by the other that we wanted to illustrate and we did that.
We discussed how we wanted to choose tweets before we started selecting tweets. Mira said one thing she was doing was choosing tweets based on whether, from one tweet to the next, in the book, it would be interesting to read. My section interacts with Mira's because we mention each other sometimes, the sections overlap in time, and in the 'Extras' we mention each other again.
What’s the difference between reading this book and reading your twitter?
My Twitter isn't in chronological order, it's not divided into months and years, and it's not a selection. Reading my Twitter is like reading the first, shitty, unedited draft of a novel that's written backwards and contains a lot of stuff irrelevant to the novel, like links to reviews of my books.
Reading Selected Tweets is like reading the final draft of that. Plus Selected Tweets contains eight Twitter accounts by me, a lot of which aren't online anymore. Then there's also the benefit of being able to carry the book where-ever you want to go and turn to any page easily. You can't move with such ease through eight different Twitter accounts on a computer screen.
How would you categorize the book in terms of genre?
I wouldn't categorize it. Partly why Mira and I wanted to call it Selected Tweets because that's literally what it is, which reduces the need for categorizing it, in my view. There’s an irony in the book being an act of creation, yet many of the tweets being concerned with malaise, boredom, and a desire to do nothing. Talk to me about this mismatch.
I don't see this irony, though people have asked me about it kind of often. In my memory of my books, my protagonists are frequently alone. Often it will say that a character is going to the library, or alone in his or her room. I kind of expect my ideal reader to fill in the gaps and assume—since literally it happened—that these characters are spending a lot of time alone, during which time they are often writing or editing.
I’m curious about your cover design. It looks as though it could have been a book written 100 years ago, an interesting choice considering its content is so 21st century.
I'm glad you view the cover that way. We were originally going to each draw and design our own covers, but Mira or someone had the idea to make it look kind of like the Bible. I liked the idea and we decided to go with it.
In 140 characters or less, what is this book about?
In my view, it's about whatever anyone wants it to be about after and while reading it.