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SDSU Professor’s New Book Is An Experiment In Fiction For The Twitter Generation

Aired 8/19/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUEST:

Harold Jaffe, is a San Diego State University literature professor and author of 22 books. His most recent book, "Induced Coma," is a compilation of 50- and 100-word short stories.

Transcript

San Diego State University literature Professor Harold Jaffe is shown in this undated photograph.

Twitter has taught us that it doesn't take many words to make a statement.

Rumors, condolences, arguments and celebrations can be exchanged in brief bursts of information.

But could a powerful story be told in a very short format?

What would the reader gain, or lose in a story made up of 100 words or less?

San Diego State University literature Professor Harold Jaffe is experimenting with such a short, short story form in a collection called "Induced Coma." Jaffe is the author of 22 books, including two others that employ "flash-fiction," one of which is called "Anti-Twitter" which is comprised of 50-word stories.

Jaffe said it's the culture that compels him to write this way.

"Now young people are multitasking," he said. "They don't have the time to read stretches of prose, they are busy with busyness."

Many of the stories in "Induced Coma" are inspired by media reports like one about a giraffe killed by Copenhagen Zoo staff and fed to lions.

Here is that story, published with permission from the author:


Marius

   Copenhagen Zoo murdered Marius the giraffe with a bolt pistol

as horrified schoolchildren crowded around to watch the cadaver

be butchered then fed to lions.

   Copenhagen Zoo received more than 20,000 petitions to spare

the healthy giraffe.

   Copenhagen Zoo was informed by the European Association

of Zoos (EAZA) that Marius was genetically similar to the zoo's

other giraffes, hence expendable.

   Copenhagen Zoo received offers from zoos to adopt Marius and

from individuals to purchase then donate the giraffe to animal parks.

   Copenhagen Zoo insisted that animals could not be transferred

to Institutions not strictly adhering to rules on breeding programs.

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