“The Right Sort” by David Mitchell

"The Right Sort" - David Mitchell

Can you tell a short story on Twitter without going stir-crazy with the 140-character limit?

This week, we’re reading a short story originally published on Twitter by one of my favorite authors. David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of Slade House, The Bone Clocks, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007.

Mitchell isn’t afraid to cross genres in his novels, and so it wasn’t a big surprise that he made the leap to Twitter. He posted “The Right Sort” in the form of 280 tweets over one week. In the story, a teenage boy named Nathan Bland is dragged to a party at the mysterious posh house of Lady Briggs. He slips one of his mother’s Valium pills to help with his anxiety, and from there the story dives into a strange and suspenseful tale that would give Edgar Allan Poe the shivers.

Here are a few discussion questions:

  • Did the Twitter format change your experience of his story?
  • Although we experienced reading this story in one sitting in a continuous stream, how do you think Twitter fans would have experienced this story in real time?
  • Could this Twitter format have worked if it was a romance or comedy, instead of a suspense story?
  • Did Mitchell leave out any story elements due to space constraints? Did it feel like a full story?
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