420 Characters: Stories//
Author: Lou Beach
Genre: Experimental, Drama, Short Story Collection, Microfiction
Status updates on an internet social network give us slips of a person, the mundane thoughts and worries amidst any major reactions and events. Author Lou Beach decided to use the format for an experiment: use the 420-character limit (including punctuation and spaces) as a creative constraint for telling a story within an update. One new story was posted each day, and the end result, over a hundred stories, were collected in this volume.
Ranging from beguiling to befuddling, the stories include quite a few excellent works of microfiction. There are dangerous intimations in still scenes to moments snatched from unwritten epics. Beach distinguishes each tale with a variety of setting, pace, and personality; but the cumulative effect of so many works of similar length is that no single story made an impact that lasted after I closed the book. The collection is housed in handsome red hardcover, with high-quality design and text elegantly divided with odd illustrations. 420 Characters is an admirable venture, but even compared with other volumes of microfiction, this collection’s appeal is as ephemeral as the day-old update.