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NOVEMBER 22, 2011

Short, sharp shocks
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420 Characters

Lou Beach is best known as an illustrator and album-cover designer. But his ability to capture complex scenes in just a few strokes makes his first book of fiction a keeper.

“The stories you are about to encounter were written as status updates on a large social networking site,” Beach writes in his author’s note. “These updates were limited to 420 characters, including letters, spaces, and punctuation.” Hence the book’s title (420 Characters), and its primary virtue: Every story here is sharpened to a point. Best of all, you can read lots of them online, free of charge, on the book’s website; it, too, is a model of economy.

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