Teju Cole just told a short story in a whole new way. Cole, whose current Twitter bio asks, “We who?” retweeted 35 users to tell a story that begins with a narrator seeing “a man on the ground”:
… to the subway, I saw a man on the ground. He sat on the sidewalk, under trees, with his feet out to the quiet street.
— rünty reader (@runtyreader) January 8, 2014
We soon learn that others are there:
Four others were there: a young man busy with a phone, a young woman, a baby in a pram, a girl who was with the woman.
— George Szirtes (@george_szirtes) January 8, 2014
The scene is solemn:
There was a stillness in the scene, as in an altarpiece. There was a helpless air in those who stood around him.
— ; (@murab) January 8, 2014
Part of the genius here is that Cole is weaving together many voices to tell one story–which good storytelling always aims to do. And Cole does so on a medium that is best known for hastags, yet he doesn’t use one to here. One also has to read from the bottom up in order to understand its meaning.
By defamiliarizing something that might otherwise read as an everyday story on an everyday medium, he adds an incredible amount of depth to the way the reader discerns it. In a word, it’s brilliant.
Want to read the whole story? Head over to @tejucole.