Jonathan Franzen is not a fan of Twitter (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Twitter: an unprecedented and awesome way for authors to engage directly with their fans or a big old waste of time?
You can put Jonathan Franzen squarely in the latter camp. Last week, the author of the bestselling novels The Corrections and Freedom published a widely discussed essay in The Guardian decrying many aspects of our digital life, including Twitter. In particular, he complained about the way that the Internet "tempts everyone... to take positions on what is hip and to consider, under pain of being considered unhip, the positions that everyone else is taking." He goes on to express his disappointment at Salman Rushdie for having taken to Twitter, calling him "a novelist who I believe ought to have known better."
Earlier today, Rushdie, who appeared on the show last season, answered back:
Whether or not you agree with Franzen, it's hard to deny the appeal of a great author Twitter account. Here are six of our faves:
6. Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie)
Why he's great at Twitter: Rushdie is something of a wise old uncle on Twitter, offering wry observations about pop culture and modern life — including one memorable limerick about Kim Kardashian.
At #OccupyWallStreet now. It's so civil and polite. And the idealism is overwhelming. Keep going kids!— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) October 16, 2011
5. William Gibson (@GreatDismal)
Why he's great at Twitter: Gibson, the author of cyberpunk classics like Neuromancer and eerie near-future novels like Pattern Recognition, shares weird and wonderful discoveries from around the internet, and retweets examples of his sci-fi predictions coming true in the real world. (Check out George's interview with him from season 8).
Snowden *living* in the Transit Zone of Moscow airport is J.G. Ballard fan fiction that literally writes itself. Even his name's Ballardian— William Gibson (@GreatDismal) June 25, 2013
4. Margaret Atwood (@MargaretAtwood)
Why she's great at Twitter: Atwood, who returns to the red chair later this month, is the grand doyenne of Twitter, sharing links, making jokes and generally being her chatty, sharp-tongued self.
Fireworks detonated by expert brother in law. None of us lost any body parts. I think this is good. Happy Long Weekend!— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) May 19, 2013
3. Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself)
Why he's great at Twitter: Gaiman, the English fantasy author behind the Sandman novels, is nearly as prolific on Twitter as he is in print. For A Calendar of Tales, he crowd-sourced story ideas from his nearly two million followers and turned his favourites into short stories. Hurry up and follow him now before he takes his six-month Twitter sabbatical in January.
Because I can lie beautiful true things into existence, & let people escape from inside their own heads & see through other eyes. #whyIwrite— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) October 20, 2011
2. Judy Blume (@judyblume)
Why she's great at Twitter: Judy. Blume. On Twitter. Need we say more?
You're not going to believe this but tonight I started watching Friday Night Lights. #FirstTime. Better late than never, right?— Judy Blume (@judyblume) May 4, 2013
1. Joe Hill (@joe_hill)
Why he's great at Twitter: Joe Hill just happens to be Stephen King's son — but he studiously avoided trading on his famous father's name when he was coming up as an author (see his interview with George from 2010). Hill's a Twitter natural: he even wrote the site into one of his stories, “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead,” in which a mother and daughter bicker about the latter's Twitter habit (and then some zombies show up).
I'd like to get R-E-A-D tattooed on my knuckles. Then I could punch literacy into people.— Joe Hill (@joe_hill) July 8, 2013