Black Box
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Black Box

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Novelette length collection of tweets published over a period of ten days. Science fiction.
ebook, 50 pages
Published June 2nd 2012 by
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David Sarkies
Apr 17, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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...more
Nellie Airoldi
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.

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...more
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...more
Erik Erickson
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
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...more
Le Paginestrappate

[...] 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. [...]
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
Shawn Camp
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...more
Spændende eksperiment, der holder en fanget - det ene "tweet"/afsnit tager det andet. Kunne også godt lide, at alle sætninger var skrevet som instruktioner direkte til "dig".

Men novellen/skriften/whatever er også hurtigt glemt og selve historien (en spion, der forsøger at skaffe sig oplysninger) er ikke specielt original, på trods af beskrivelsen af diverse moderne teknologier indbygget i hovedkarakterens krop.

En hyggesjov halv time, men det er så også det.
Hummmm... interessante como um ensaio para testar diferentes formatos de prosa. Aqui, no caso, em pequenos trechos de 140 caracteres, como se fossem tweets. Mas a história não chega a empolgar. Originalmente publicado na revista The New Yorker, acho que não valia ter transformado em livro.
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...more
Mar 11, 2014 MightiMidget rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of experimental fiction
Recommended to MightiMidget by: SilverEagle
Well. That was an experience. I would prefer to give this 3.5 stars, but I'm leaning toward 3 since I have to pick one. It was a very unique voice, and an engaging, ethereal story.
In all honesty, I'm not a huge Egan fan . . . That said, I absolutely loved this. I found the story in 2013's The Best American Nonrequired Reading. I buy the BANR every year and have culled some favorites from each edition, like a couple years ago when Karen Russell stole my heart with Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Guess this kind of turned into a love letter to BANR. I digress . . .
Roman Dee Hellwigi
Perfect. Blew my mind. It's like Jennifer meticulously built a modern house using Eames blueprints and bullet points. Crazy cool structure that somehow, even with the stark angles, manages to keep you in the light. It never led me down into a damp basement wondering wtf was going on. Again, perfect.
Really clever. A novella written in 8 tweets per chapter, science fiction, with the most fascinating use of the predictive conditional future tense. So assured. Loved it.
Chantel McCray
Jennifer Egan is such an innovative writer, proven once again with Black Box. A novella (novelette?) released in tweets over the course of ten evenings. The story takes the shape of a spy log, with each tweet being an entry in the log. I'm not sure how I feel about the format of it's release, I preferred reading each evening tweets as a whole rather than as they were released because that's just how my brain works, but the story itself was clever and original. Definitely worth checking out. You...more
I first read this in the New Yorker as a complete work and later learned that it was origionaly published as a series of Tweets. This is the first work of Jennifer Egan's that I've read and I'll be looking to read more of her work in the future. The style of the writing is fantastic, making use of the Twitter format but more importantly entirely logical within the context of the story. There are two small plot points I think are a bit rough but the short format demanded the action happen quickly...more
i love love love the idea of using twitter for creative writing. although i actually read this in The New Yorker's sci fi issue, it was still presented with each sentence spaced out on its own, and kept the choppy, elegantly sparse feel. She also takes an interesting POV, it's written as an instruction manual/case study, describing events and emotions that are happening as "you might", and "it may". very clever, and also a compelling and inventive story.
brave. she doesn't even tweet that much.
Adam Higgitt
A thriller written in tweets sounds like a ghastly gimmick. Instead, it is a beautifully wimmersive and evocative short story. The discipline of using 140 or fewer characters results in a crisp, consise mode of storytelling that perfectly suits the subject, a futuristic spy whose specialism is luring her targets to bed and lurking in the background as they do their largely unexplained criminal business.
It all starts a bit bizarre, with 140 character sentences that seem more like supermodel pronouncements. Quickly though, the story is absorbed by drips of information of the backstory, through the action. Well done! By the end I was stunned to realise the story was coherent, and my emotional response was in large part to what is *not* said by those 140 characters.
This was a short story that originally appeared in this past year's Science Fiction issue of the New Yorker. It was pretty cool and very well written and between this and a sampling of her work on the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, I decided to read A Visit From the Goon Squad, which was a very good idea.
This was a great story, very creative and unique in its presentation. I plan to experiment with this format in my own writing. This mixes glimpses of the main character's person with the "mission", making it most compelling in its simplicity and intensity. Well done, Ms. Egan!
Storywise this is an episode of "Dollhouse" written in short missives or tweets, which the New Yorker ran as such. The remarkable things about the story are the writing and the razor sharp observations. A little too long, I got the point halfway through, but masterfully written.
Yeah. Three = "I liked it." Didn't expect to, due to the whole "this is a stunt" nature of the thing. It was a stunt. Read like a stunt, but still delivered a credible story. So...three, because I did like it. Wouldn't want to read another like it, necessarily.
Holy shit. I didn't know she tweeted the whole thing - just read it in the New Yorker sci-fi issue. Love love loved it. Some folks are decrying its "stunt" factor; whatever - it made for gripping reading and I completely adored it. Beautiful stuff.
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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...more
More about Jennifer Egan...
A Visit from the Goon Squad The Keep Look at Me The Invisible Circus Emerald City

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