Read Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline by Shawn Syms Marcy Rogers Sonal Champsee Angelique Stevens Clayton Littlewood Steve Karas Kate Baggott Lisa Mrock Online


Tales told through texting. Pinterest prose, LinkedIn lit, irony over Instagram – or Facebook flash fiction. Digital media is now an inescapable facet of how we live, and it influences what and how we read and write. Today’s fiction not only incorporates emails, iPads and even good old MySpace into storylines, but also integrates interactive conventions into the actual forTales told through texting. Pinterest prose, LinkedIn lit, irony over Instagram – or Facebook flash fiction. Digital media is now an inescapable facet of how we live, and it influences what and how we read and write. Today’s fiction not only incorporates emails, iPads and even good old MySpace into storylines, but also integrates interactive conventions into the actual form and structure of the work – creating hybrid forms in which a tweet or status update becomes a site for literary exploration.Friend. Follow. Text is a short-fiction anthology that explores the intersection between social media and literature. This book brings together highly creative work whose content and form are inspired by social media – great, often funny writing that moves beyond using digital forms as mere gimmicks.The anthology showcases the work of a diverse range of contributors including Steven Heighton, Heather Birrell, Zoe Whittall, Greg Kearney and Jessica Westhead, with a mix of new writing alongside judiciously selected and underexposed reprints."Longing for connection – and the ineffable unhappiness that results – is an old phenomenon for the species, but the wild-ass speed that we now cycle through those states is damn unprecedented. Every new human experience demands a new language, and the stories in Friend. Follow. Text. take the brave steps toward that."Brian Joseph Davis, creator of The Composites...

Title : Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781926531809
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 297 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline Reviews

  • Nathan Burgoine
    2018-09-25 22:03

    "IMHO," by Marcy RogersThis very short tale kicks off Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline, edited by Shawn Syms, and lets the reader know they're in for tales that go beyond the typical - and safe - ideas they might have been expecting.Here we meet Jude, who has connected with Scott online - a man he's never met, but for whom very strong feelings have definitely grown. But it's not what you'd think, and in a very short space, Rogers gives you a sharp left turn, and then - boom - the last few lines are like a series of rabbit punches to your expectations."And Also Sharks," by Jessica WestheadThe best part of an anthology for me will always be how various authors take the theme of a collection and go in different directions. Yesterday I talked about how the first story was a real surprise and left a shiver up and down the spine. Today's story made me laugh out loud."And Also Sharks" is told in the voice of a woman who is - perhaps - not the most socially evolved lady in the world, and her discussion (or stream of consciousness) that she is having with an online persona/blog/giver of advice, "Planet Janet." The story uses a light touch to deliver some really smirk-worthy humour, and, like I said, a couple of moments where I laughed out loud (especially the titular inspiration). This story was tongue-in-cheek, and I left it with a grin.This is the second story in Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline - that link, by the way, is to a Goodreads giveaway for one of ten copies, so go click it, because I gotta say, I'm loving this anthology so far."This Just Isn't Working Out," by Zoe WhittallWritten as a series of e-mails, this is a lovely story of a life uncovered to the reader a piece at a time. It's done with empathy even as the reader gets a few cringe-worthy phrases peppered throughout what is otherwise a skillfully revealed portrait of this woman's life.Each email moves things forward just a bit, while giving you a sense that this is not just a small decline or a subtle change in her life - this is a disintegration, and the e-mails invite the reader to witness this carefully curated vision from Zoe Whittall. It's cleverly done, and another example of how the stories in Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline take the notion of using social media and the internet culture to tell tales in a unique way. (That link, by the way, will take you to a giveaway for one of ten copies of the book. I'd suggest you click it.)"Our Warm Peach," by Charles LoweThis story is also deft tale of family, told from the point of view of a very intelligent son who - despite the smarts - is caught in his clever plan at re-arranging the grade curve in his class, and thus having to be at home for a while. There, he learns that his father is not just the dumpy man who works at his garden after long shifts at work, and that his family, like so many other things, could be far more complicated.And he might also have a shot at stopping something from happening that could change everything - simply by using his father's cell phone.The voice of this story begins almost callously, but the cautious and tentative narrative that unfolds is all the more rewarding for the journey. Again, Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline left me smiling."Oniomania in the Empty Days," by Beverly LuceyThis next story from Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline is a lovely character study. Shopping compulsion spins in a dance with loneliness and as you read the story Mavis is telling, there's actually a great deal of empathy. Mavis is somehow charming even as she starts to frustrate.This story is short - and I always envy writers who can paint such a complete picture with so few words. Mavis is alive so quickly, and it's hard to get truly mad at her since you can see where her compulsion was birthed at the keyboard with eBay."5'9, 135, 6 c br bl," by Trevor CorkumOnce again, Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline surprises the reader. This story, which begins in a way at the end, moves backwards and shifts you to that start while you move alongside a young man for whom the 'net has had a significant impact - and you're about to get a very vivid picture of this young man's life taken in small snapshots.Corkum does a wonderful job giving you these fragments of a life and letting you piece it all together. Some gay subculture and a dash of the 'net hook-up culture, and a healthy dose of empathy for the young man. Though this young man is in charge of his destiny, Corkum gives you a sense of what choices and desires have driven him to where he is now.Heartbreaking, and wonderfully done."No One Else Really Wants to Listen," by Heather BirrellWow. This one is a perfect example of a way in which the 'net has changed things. The entire story is told as entries from an online pregnancy group, where women chat from all over about their pregnancies and their lives in general. It's chummy, and sometimes it's also a bit bitter, and other times various belief systems clash and there's name-calling and anger - y'know, the internet being the internet.Woven into these entries, however, Birrell has dropped a narrative of a woman who is facing first a nuisance, then a worry, and finally a harsh reality, and the structure of his online group starts to unravel a bit as the limitations of the form become obvious. Anonymity, pseudonyms, and the false courage both bring can be harsh.Ultimately, this story left me feeling a wounded, much like the "New Country" character. It's hard to watch something meant to support and help turn to ashes.“Taking Flight,” by Ben TanzerSpeaking of a different sort of click, the difference a few keystrokes can make is explored in the next story in Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline, which is a kind of stream of consciousness aimed at the reader birthed in the paling of a long-term relationship. Here, a woman is wondering if she – like her father – has it in her to be unfaithful, or if she – like her mother – can handle just smiling and faking happiness for the rest of her life, when what she really has is a kind of contentment and comfortable routine.Facebook brings a new outlet for these thoughts that is – at least on the surface – somewhat safe. After all, Facebook is the epitome of the brief and casual connection, is it not? A window into the lives of others, easily enjoyable, and then – simply – removed. Except when you go looking for something you know you shouldn’t be seeking, the odds are good you’ll find it.And can you really just click and make it all go away?"So Much Fun," by Megan StielstraYou know the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words"? Well, in today's internet age, pictures are so quick and disposable and instantly sent out to the world - and instantly deleted. A stream of photos taken and posted, not taken, or taken but not posted, or otherwise envisioned forms the narrative of this story from Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline.Cleverly put together, it begins with a description of that perfect shot of three women - that kismet of three friends posing together in a way that captures a moment of perfect fun and beauty and energy. From there, we slowly slip into the lives of these women through the images captured on an iPhone throughout the night - some posted, some not, some only looked at later. Each description takes the narrative to a slightly different place from the last, shifting the tone more than a few times. The progression, and the range, to this story is a little breathtaking. I had no concept of where I was heading until I got there, and yet every step on the journey seemed perfectly sensible from where I'd last been.It's a clever way to set up a story, like I mentioned, but the story moves beyond clever into something with real impact. It stuck with me for quite a while after I finished it."The Wedding," by Sonal ChampseeThis next tale from Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline had a lovely cadence to it. Here we have a young Indian woman who is attending a wedding by herself due to an argument she's had with her boyfriend. Trapped in the same room as the ceremony is taking place, she has to endure the rituals - and descriptions of the rituals - as they are undertaken, all the while texting her boyfriend and trying to smooth things over.As the wedding progresses, so does the series of texts sent back and forth between them, and the two relationships in the narrative counterpoint. One beginning, and one... well. One in difficulty, at the very least.Champsee manages to put a lot of character into the supporting cast here - especially in the boyfriend, who is - after all - represented entirely in short-hand texts. Also, her mother is a lovely character, done with minimal strokes of a brush that still evokes a fully formed picture. I liked this story."Spiral," by Angelique StevensOne of the more interesting things about the stories in Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline is how atypical the storytelling method can be. "Spiral" is an example of that - a story told entirely in voice mails and text messages.A family's narrative unfolds - and this is a family where there the kids are not exactly alright. There's a sister who is in a mental and physical and addictive decline, and a brother who seems to be on the losing end of alcoholism, all peppered between the texts and voice mails of a woman who is trying to live her post-divorce life on her own terms. That family can be an entangling, frustrating mess is no news to anyone, but "Spiral" does such a great job of illustrating how the troubles of family can now be instantaneously delivered to the palm of our hand."Grindr," by Clayton LittlewoodThis is a story that begins flirty - much like the app for which it is named - and then shifts tone to something more bothersome and frustrating - much like the app for which it is named - and then takes a sharp turn to somewhere I wasn't expecting.If I keep saying that about the stories in Friend. Follow. Text. #storiesFromLivingOnline, it's because it's such a welcome thing. Every story seems to veer in a new direction, but is born in the same theme that holds the collection together - social networks, the 'net, and how the digital age has changed us and the ways in which we interact.A man at a gym gets a Grindr notification, and - like I said - it begins the story in a light and flirty way that changes course throughout the telling. The last few lines left a real shiver on the skin, and I ended the story with a delightful sense of unsure disquiet."Sixteen-hundred Closest Friends," by Steve KarasI loved this story, which was about a man who is feeling somewhat like his life has slipped by him somehow. He works a steady job, has a wife he loves, but that doesn't compare to what he finds when he finally joins Facebook and sees one friend in particular from his youth who is still young, strong, and surrounded by different women at every update.What Karas does cleverly here is not make his narrator seem pathetic or deluded. At no point does this man think his life is bad - he just can't help but see the greener grass, and it chips away at him while he gets up at four in the morning to open his diner on time. When a random chance allows a reunion with his former friend while his wife is away, there's a tension that's wound all the tighter as they set out for an evening together.But life as it appears on Facebook and life as it is... Well, we all know those aren't necessarily the same thing.“A Collection of Ill-Advised Facebook Status Updates,” by Kate BaggottI keep saying this, but the creativity involved in Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline continues to make me grin. This entire story is told in the form of Facebook notifications – either status updates or notices about who is messaging who, or who put what on someone else’s wall. And in the space of only a few pages, Baggott manages to transfer an entire tale to the reader with a wry sense of an almost voyeuristic cleverness.What’s going on in the tale? Well – it’s the lives of a few key people, their families, and – of course – those who read and watch their Facebook updates. And when a relationship (or two) hits that ignition point and flames erupt, even something as innocuous as a status update can make everything just that little bit worse."The Life Span of the 21st Century Crush (A Cautionary Tale)," by Lisa MrockOh how I grinned my way through this.Mrock's tale from Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline is a jewel of a piece. Explaining on a month-by-month basis the journey of a contemporary crush over the space of seven months, and how enabled (encouraged?) we are by this digital age to look without touching, and to court without introducing ourselves.Because, really, it's so easy to overlook issues when you can glance at the Facebook photos and know - just know - that this guy needs someone to snuggle with. You can tell "wounded" when you read a blog.This piece has a self-deprecating humor to it that was absolutely refreshing."Do You Want to Burn to Death and Look Like Steak with Hair?" by Greg KearneyA tale told in the format of a blog, there's a kind of whimsical (and maybe cruel) humour to this story that I found utterly delightful. If that sounds like a contradiction, I understand, but I promise when you delve into this story from Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline that you'll get it.Helene Savant is a woman blogging about her sobriety, her survival of cancer, and promising "There IS life - thrilling, thrilling L-I-F-E! - after drugs and alcohol and, in my case, real breasts. Read on!"And oh, I read on. When one is surviving cancer and alcoholism and a husband who is a convicted pedophile on trial and a friend who has found Jesus in a big way and also a date that might just be two souls meeting for the first time (if only he'd understand that) it's hard not to be full of vim and joy. And Helene is full of something, all right. But it's this neurotic and manic joy that suffuses ever line of this story that is just so intensely enjoyable.In a way that makes you feel like a horrible human being.Huge props to Kearney. I've rarely read a tale that made me feel so bad about being amused."Baby, Let's Rock," by Wyl VillacresNext up in the Syms-edited awesomeness that is Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline is this wonderful freaking gem of a story by Wyl Villacres. I don't know how to describe the tone of this one. I'm never going to capture the ballsy whimsy (can I combine those two? Too late, I combined those two).Here it is: guy decides to expose the online-dating world by making two profiles - one the uber-good perfect guy, the other the obviously-terrible and potentially-an-axe-murderer guy, and watches both profiles. Then goes on a date with someone who responds to the latter profile.What follows? Well, I think I said "ballsy whimsy" but I also said that doesn't do it justice. Just trust me - not only does the story go to some seriously fun and crazy places, it actually has a zig-zag at the end you likely won't see coming, but you'll smile about it after because, despite the ballsy whimsy ride, who doesn't love feeling that "Aww!" settle in the tummy?"Coffee Owl," by Judy DarleyOne of the shortest tales in the collection, "Coffee Owl" nevertheless packs a solid punch. The story here is told by a woman who has cut her connections to her brother after his degrading mental state made her the one who saved him from his attempt to take his life. That this brother has never forgiven her is part of the tension that builds through the short story, but also the realization that he has - once again - gone missing.With texts and other messages coming in from her mirror, the woman considers how it might be possible to reach her brother, and takes a simple chance.It's a lovely story, and despite the sense of pain and potential darkness, somehow I finished it with a smile. There's hope in small connections, I think."Three Tuesdays from Now," by Shawn SymsI've been lucky enough to share a table of contents with Shawn a few times now, as well as having met him face-to-face in New Orleans (because as Canadians in different cities, that seemed to be the place to say hello). When he puts together a short fiction piece, I always know I'm going to find the envelope pushed, and this was no exception.In "Three Tuesdays from Now" the tale walks through a few characters, dipping into their thoughts and weaving their connections in a stream not unlike a kind of written "Slacker" but with more sex, franker characters, and the singular notion of a Craiglist "date" where money changes hands. I don't want to ruin any of the character revelations, but I will say that I found everyone in the tale delightfully bent. These are people that felt real to me in a way that reminded me of people I knew, people with scars or illnesses or disabilities that didn't fit the role those characteristics are "supposed" to entail.This story is a glimpse of a few key moments, with just enough context to form a cohesive whole. Like so much well-written short fiction, it's also a tale that leaves you wondering and wanting, but satisfied for the moment."Deletion," by Robert J. HoltThere's a real bittersweetness to this one that gave me a pang that stayed for a good while after reading, and I say that as someone who truly loves spinning bittersweet stories. Found in Friend. Follow. Text.:#storiesFromLivingOnline, this story is of a relationship that's fading, and of another that could never be, and a man who knows the danger of time's passage.The real soft touch of the tale is how Holt weaves so much into those last few lines of the story. There's regret and love and a kind of aching loneliness that just struck me right down to the bone. Beautiful."Google World," by Sara PressThis tale by Press reminded me of my own time and travels. Two young men are traveling in Vietnam, and have just arrived somewhere that would definitely not be high on the list of tourist attractions. Indeed, when they arrive and realize they may have misstepped, they check out the guide book and see that they're somewhere the travel guide suggests they not go.Communication comes at the hands of an internet cafe, and once again Friend. Follow. Text.:#storiesFromLivingOnline takes a tale and places that slice of technology and communication and shows the reader the impact it has on the narrative.There's more to "Google World" than that, however - those moments in the internet cafe give the main character a chance to see what's going on back home, and in the time two dollars will give online, some hard realities are presented (and some rather soft and vapid ones, via a quick Facebook check). The last few lines of this story were a bit haunting."Cordyceps," by K. Tait JarboeWhen I started this story from Friend. Follow. Text.:#storiesFromLivingOnline, I took a long pause once I realized that the main character, Ada, was there to clean out her father's home after he passed away. She starts with his computer - given the theme of the anthology, that shouldn't have been a surprise - and finds files and connections she wasn't expecting.I was too close to this story, and as such, it whammied me. It's so deftly done, and if I really try to take myself and my past out of my reactions to the story, I think readers will have the same reaction. It's poingnant, has an edge, and leaves you realizing that even after someone passes, those "messages in a bottle" don't ever quite say enough.

  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    2018-10-09 01:09

    How fitting is it that I found out about the anthology Friend. Follow. Text.: #storiesFromLivingOnline on goodreads, and the editor Shawn Syms found out that I was interested in it on twitter, because I had written about it on my blog. He kindly sent me a pdf review copy to my email. Although this collection isn’t explicitly queer, the editor Shawn Syms is and so are quite a few of the contributors and/or their stories: Marcy Rogers, Zoe Whittall, Trevor Corkum, Megan Stielstra, K Tait Jarboe, Dorianne Emmerton, Clayton Littlewood, and Alex Leslie.This anthology begins with the simple premise that “Technology, social media and online communication have changed the way we live our lives – and the way we write about them.” Some of the contributors are really playing with form here (there are whole stories in text messages) whereas some are more concerned with social media in terms of content. As with all anthologies, I had some favourites. Let’s talk about them.(Marcy Rogers, Zoe Whittall, Jessica Westhead, Trevor Corkum, Megan Strielstra, Dorianne Emmerton were my favourites). See the full review here: http://caseythecanadianlesbrarian.wor...

  • Noelle Walsh
    2018-10-16 04:04

    I found this anthology to be a nice collection of stories based around technology and social media. I enjoyed reading it, going so far as to read a couple of the stories a second time. I'll be recommending this book, I think.*Won on GoodReads First Reads*

  • Maria Nikic
    2018-10-12 03:01

    This was a fun book to read! I enjoyed reading it !

  • Jaimelivres
    2018-10-16 23:45

    This is a collection of short stories related to social media and technology. As my children always tease me about my lack of social media savvy, I wasn't sure if I would connect with the subject matter but I was pleasantly surprised. Each of the short stories grabbed my attention, they were well written and enjoyable.

  • Jay
    2018-09-27 20:42

    An enjoyable, fun read.

  • Michael Bryson
    2018-10-04 00:44

    Interesting collection of short fiction, and also interesting archive of all of the different social media platforms and the surprising diversity of "new media" (not really so new any more, right) opportunities for mediating human connection.Is the transitory nature of human connection over-emphasized here? Has it become cliche that technology can only give us surface, not depth?These stories both push against stereotype and confirm them. However, the diversity of authors as well as the wide range of story telling experiments with form, make this a worthy, even exciting, anthology.

  • Caralyn Rubli
    2018-09-25 01:08

    I received this book in a giveaway through Goodreads first reads. A book of short stories.Like every short story book there are some really good (IMHO by Marcy Rogers), some good, some bad and some really bad. All in all a very good collection. Part of one of the stories takes place at an Indian wedding in Brampton!!!!! Awesome!!!

  • Kate Baggott
    2018-10-02 03:58

    I really enjoyed the diverse collection of other authors' works in this anthology. Regardless of how you feel about social media, there is a distinct sense of the diversity and unity of human experience and community in this anthology.

  • Niya
    2018-09-26 03:44

    As a collection of short stories about life in a hyperconnected society goes, it is a good collection. There are diverse writing styles that touch on a breadth of subjects while never delving deep enough to expose the truly unsavory side of digital communications. There is the occasional frisson but nothing that leaves a lasting impact. Like most collections, it is easy enough to devour in a single sitting and then forget anything past the act of consumption.

  • Shawn Syms
    2018-10-03 00:11

  • Greg Kearney
    2018-10-04 20:42

  • Wyl Villacres
    2018-09-21 03:45

  • Clayton Littlewood
    2018-09-18 23:08