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Black Box

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  692 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Novelette length collection of tweets published over a period of ten days. Science fiction.
ebook, 50 pages
Published June 2nd 2012 by (first published 2012)
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Aug 25, 2016 Ariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
In the near future, you might be called up to serve your country based solely on your looks & willingness to deploy these looks in service to said country.

Your country may ask you to accessorize that service with some pretty heavy subcutaneous tech.

Your country may be an idiot and decide the camera in your eye would be awesome if it had a flash.

This flash might briefly blind you or get you killed. It may lead you into further shenanigans that get you killed.

You might be killed.

You are not
Sam Quixote
An undercover spy is on a mission to stop bad guys from doing bad stuff – this story is a recording of her mission, her Black Box.

Sounds vague and generic? Well Jennifer Egan switched things up by writing her story on Twitter! That’s right, each line is a separate tweet making up a whole story. It’s also written in my least favourite style, the second person. This means that everything refers to you. You think. You do. You are. You know. You You. You You You. YOU!

Our unnamed narrator lives in
Black Box is another story by Egan, along the lines of her narrative experiments in A Visit From The Goon Squad. A story told in Twitter-size sentences, moments of bizarre poetry happen on nearly every page. Using a second-person limited (I think?) point of view is confusing at times, and has an ethereal quality at others. The 'black box' is what you're reading, a tape of narrated instructions of the agent's spy work as she does her mission. An interesting technique, but a little unweildy.

The in
David Sarkies
Apr 17, 2014 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People
Recommended to David by: Some internet course
Shelves: sci-fi
The death of the traditional book
21 April 2013

Despite this being a novella and also appearing in a magazine, I simply could not leave off making some comments on this rather unusual piece of literature. I guess this is something that you would call post-modern, but the way the story is constructed, and the uniqueness of it, is what makes it intriguing. Basically it is a simple spy story, but it was originally told through a number of Twitter posts over a period of a week and the story unfolds t
Jan 22, 2015 Kelanth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spionaggio, ebook
"Scatola nera" è un’originalissima spy story scritta dall’autrice Premio Pulitzer di "Il tempo è un bastardo", Jennifer Egan. E' una storia nata per essere pubblicata su Twitter, ossia scandita in brevi porzioni di testo non più lunghe di 140 caratteri. Minimum Fax, attraverso il proprio account, twitta il libro della Egan, tradotto dal bravissimo Matteo Colombo (un impresa tutt'altro che facile la sua), al ritmo di un cinguettio al minuto; razioni di testo tornano ad avvicendarsi negli spazi ri ...more
Shawn Camp
Jun 12, 2012 Shawn Camp rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Why is it some reviewers are so easy to provide 5 or 4 *s just because they are fans of the author, are first to review, or just can't say a bad thing because they don't want to hurt someone feelings?

That's how I feel with Black Box,I agree it's unique and interesting, but did I really enjoy it or consider it the best? That's what we're essentially saying here by giving it anything more than 3 stars. With three were saying that we liked it, with two its just ok, and one we disliked it.

So how di
Sep 09, 2015 Junta rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Twitter users, secret agents
Recommended to Junta by: Undergraduate literature course
Ever read a short story which was serialised on Twitter? Black Box by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan was published by the New Yorker Twitter account over nine days in 2012, and hence is comprised of lines containing less than 140 characters.

Below is part 1 of 47:
People rarely look the way you expect them to, even when you've seen pictures.

The first thirty seconds in a person's presence are the most important.

If you're having trouble perceiving and projecting, focus on projecting.

Necessary i
Aug 18, 2015 Ilinalta rated it it was ok
If you ignore the format that it was written in, it's a pretty alright story.
Sep 24, 2012 Pamela rated it really liked it
J Egan, I have reevaluated your writing...I wrote a very unhappy, negative review of your novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad, here on GR, which I continue to recall with unhappy shudders.

But this story--what a delight! And reading it this afternoon in the early fall warm sunshine in my backyard, a stack of New Yorkers before me, I completely forgot that it had been originally published via Twitter, and that each line meets Twitter's demands of 140 characters or less.

Certainly I was aware that ea
Nov 10, 2015 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: racconti

Non avevo mai letto nulla di Jennifer Egan e non sapevo se, approcciandomi all'autrice attraverso un testo così particolare, sarei riuscita ugualmente a cogliere il suo stile e a capire, di conseguenza, se fosse affine ai miei gusti; dubbi che ho preferito abbandonare alla prima pagina e, denudata da ogni pretesa di voler far analisi, mi sono addentrata nella storia con semplicità e disimpegno.

Questo nuovo modo di far letteratura, per quanto interessante p
Sep 26, 2012 Venuskitten rated it really liked it
This is a spy thriller but with an intriguing angle The story is told from the point of view of the female spy; a "beauty" or honey trap whose task is to lure a specific male target and record intelligence she obtains from him. The text is in the form of extracts from the spy handbook which reflect the action As it happens.

The story was originally published in daily instalments in a newspaper and is written in the form of tweets.

The story and its style are original, clever and inventive; typica
Hannah Seo
Oct 08, 2016 Hannah Seo rated it really liked it
It wasn't the storyline that was fascinating. It was the way in which the reader was allowed to become a part of the narrator. All that talk about how the story was 'unoriginal' is useless because all stories out there are replicas of others. What matters is how differently it is presented. How heart-enrapturing it is. How 'real' the story becomes, despite the 'logical mind' beating it with a sledgehammer. That's why I'm giving this 5 stars. It reminded me of 'Speak' by Laurie Halse Anderson, an ...more
Erik Erickson
Jul 01, 2012 Erik Erickson rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, prose, scifi
An interesting little story. I was confused until I learned from the other reviewers that it was originally tweeted, hence the bizarre format. I thought it was supposed to be a set of instructions prior to the agent's deployment but that theory broke when it became obvious things weren't hypothetical, that they were actually happening. Not sure why it's written like it is (if-then format) but it was enjoyable. I'm not convinced twitter makes for good storytelling unless used in extremely specifi ...more
Le Paginestrappate
Mar 03, 2013 Le Paginestrappate rated it really liked it

[...] Mi aspettavo una cosa breve, un esercizio di scrittura costipato dalle barriere asfissianti di un tweet e risolta su un gioco di sarcasmo e massime da bar, come spesso è la comunicazione via twitter. Invece, sorprendetemente, Scatola nera è un racconto piuttosto lungo, con una sua trama e una forma funzionante. [...]
Nellie Airoldi
Jul 13, 2014 Nellie Airoldi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ed è così che, in meno di un’ora, ci si ritrova a ridere, pensare, immaginare, stupirsi, librarsi. Perché Scatola Nera di Jennifer Egan è un mix di emozioni e di azioni che lasciano il lettore, soprattutto al primo incontro con la scrittrice, soddisfatto ma assetato, come quando si mangia un brownies appena sfornato e se ne vorrebbe ancora, ancora e poi ancora.
Flo R
Jan 26, 2016 Flo R rated it it was amazing
Considering the way the story began, completely did not expect the unfolding of such a calmingly simple yet strangely exciting story. The guiding narration is not for the reader, yet also somehow very much for the reader. So many truthful statements every few sentences. I am in love with the method used to describe the changes from one scene to another. The most satisfying part is when you figure out the connection between the title and the story.
Oct 14, 2014 Fati rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure about this when I started reading it, but the more I read, the more I liked! She has some lovely lines there, and I found the way the story was written to be very clever and it worked. Definitely worth a read.
Sep 26, 2015 Ariel rated it it was amazing
Clever. Could not imagine following it on a twitter feed but very much stands as a story on its own.
Alysyn Reinhardt
May 14, 2016 Alysyn Reinhardt rated it it was amazing
Going to be making a really special review for this short story! It'll be up before June.
Merissa Long
Oct 22, 2016 Merissa Long rated it it was amazing
I had to read this for English class in college and I was the only one who who said she liked it. I thought it was awesome. You don't see that many books written in that POV and it really changes how you view the book and the story. I wish there was more to it to read.
Laura Elizabeth
Oct 11, 2016 Laura Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
such an important read. so, so good.
Nov 29, 2015 Katie rated it liked it
As a strong example of the experimental postmodern text, Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box” presents the story of a beautiful, nameless female spy, the Beauty, who must infiltrate and extract information from the life of an unnamed, shady individual dubbed the Designated Mate. “Black Box” uses Twitter as its medium of choice, with the story being posted in 140-character increments. This medium shapes the content of the text, since the story is told as a list of instructions that the spy uses to navigat ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Miclan rated it it was ok
Shelves: spec-fic
You can read Black Box in a traditional format on certain websites, but reading it as Egan intended makes the reading a completely different and far better experience. The narrator is a spy, dictating notes in her head, giving advice to those who might follow in her footsteps. In this way, the reader understands what is happening to her in an indirect way. The suspense, the sense of a limited perspective, the feeling of unfamiliarity with one’s environment, all of these are accentuated by Egan’s ...more
Gardy (Elisa G)
Questo racconto breve non dichiaratamente ma sostanzialmente fantascientifico (con buona pace degli editori tutti) dell’abilissima Jennifer Egan mi costringe ad ammettere che sì, ci sarebbe bisogno di un grado di letterarietà maggiore nella SFF, dove il genere del racconto è florido ma gli esempi così memorabili e rifiniti non altrettanto.

Una serie di frasi brevissime, poi trasformate in tweet dal New York Times, costituisce un manuale di consigli e direttive che Bellezza, una delle tante giovan
May 01, 2016 Dalbro rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, 2014
Sort Boks er en kort (og lidt mærkelig) spionhistorie. Vi følger en ung kvindelig skønhed der er undercover og skal infiltrere magtens mænd. Hendes krop er den sorte boks ser indeholder vigtig information og gennem indopereret teknologi, kan hun sende nødsignaler, tage billeder (ved hjælp af et kamera i hendes øje), optage samtaler (ved hjælp af en mikrofon i hendes øre) og meget andet.

Hun er sendt ud på en farlig opgave, som hun kun kan komme ud af på to måder - ved succesfuldt at få fat i de o
Jan 11, 2015 Suni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il concetto di "esperimento letterario" mi inquieta sempre un po'. Aggiungiamoci pure che in questo caso specifico si tratta di un romanzo nato su Twitter e composto da twit... e insomma, ero prevenutissima.
Ma vuoi la brevità, vuoi che tutto sommato a un Premio Pulitzer un'occasione la si dà, ieri pomeriggio l'ho letto.
Che dire? Applausi per Egan, che sviluppa una vera e propria spy story moderatamente fantascientifica, ambientata in un futuro imprecisato ma presumibilmente prossimo, e ce la rac
K's Bognoter
Jennifer Egan har begået, hvad der angiveligt er verdens første “twitterroman”.

Sort boks er en simpel spionhistorie om en amerikansk kvinde, der er på spionmission et sted ved Middelhavet. Hendes opgave er – med sin skønhed som det vigtigste våben og med kroppen fuld af højteknologiske implantater – at komme tæt på en mand og aflytte ham og hans forretningsforbindelser.

Twitterelementet består i, at hele romanen er fortalt i små tekststumper, der overholder twitterformatets krav om maksimalt 140
Mar 19, 2013 Judith rated it it was amazing
I am using this story as the conclusion to a class in NYer short stories because it requires the reader to become a writer - that is, the reader has to interpret the information provided in each segment and create a narrative for herself. Brava, Jen Egan - once again you've led me in a direction (science fiction this time, rock music last with Goon Squad) I didn't want to go. I have to figure out how the statements work as tweets because troglodyte that I am, I don't know.

To prepare for an exami
Nov 29, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it
This novella was published both in the New Yorker magazine and on its Twitter account in the form of 606 Tweets. I read the latter version and found it very compelling. There isn't really a narrator. Instead it's a transcript of short messages being imparted to a young woman on a spy mission sometime in the not too distant future. One device, for example, has recently been patented by Google. It's a camera in a contact lens. I rarely read science fiction but this was required for my Modernism/Po ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Gene rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
This was an interesting short story, told as if it were a series of tweets. I'm not sure I'd enjoy a full novel written in that fashion, but it works for this length of book.

I like spy novels, and mixing them with a little sci-fi always adds to them. In this case, the protagonist is a female secret agent with cybernetic implants who uses her allure as her most powerful weapon. In the short time it took for the story to play out, it was amazing what I learned of her back story and motivation.

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Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and St John's College, Cambridge.

She is the author of three novels, The Invisible Circus, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the bestselling The Keep, and a short story collection, Emerald City. She has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and
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“It is technically impossible for a man to look better in a Speedo than in swim trunks.” 4 likes
“Then tell them, faintly, 'I heard screaming'. Men with a history of violence live in fear of retribution.” 2 likes
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