Christopher Carter Sanderson, the man behind the completely FREE downtown, edgy Gorilla Rep Shakespeare in the Park in NYC, has now turned his magical hand to the world of fiction. The Too-Brief Chronicle of Judah Lowe is a late 20th Century coming-of-age tale that found its roots in the digital age.
Carter Sanderson, known for his audacity in the creative world of immersive theater, was inspired by an Esquire writing contest to write 79/79/’79, a novella set in the year 1979, with 79 titled chapters, each 79 words long, which he then published on Facebook.
Using Twitter as his next platform, he proceeded to continue the story of 79/79/’79 with @1000thenovel, a novel in 1000 tweets, broadcast on the Twitter account of the same name - as if the narrator were authoring the tweets. Not only is each of those tweets 140 characters long, but the novel itself has a cast of 140 named characters!
The Too-Brief Chronicle of Judah Lowe really began when @1000thenovel became an international serialized hit and garnered a tremendous following. Yet the way tweets are presented made it difficult for those who discovered the work mid-story to go back and catch up. Thus, Sagging Meniscus Press Editor Jacob Smullyan combined 79/79/’79 with @1000thenovel, creating The Too-Brief Chronicle of Judah Lowe.
The Too-Brief Chronicle of Judah Lowe puts the reader inside into the mind of a young man, Moe, and his childlike experience of life through fantasy and exploration. Moe’s inspirational leader is his friend Judah, who tries to control him just as the legendary Rabbi of the same name created and controlled the Golem of Prague. The reader is transported into the trials and tribulations of Moe at school and in life in the now strange and somewhat alien world of 1979 and 1980.
The Too-Brief Chronicle of Judah Lowe gives its readers a nostalgic look at growing up in a time before social media. Before everyone put their lives out for display on Facebook and Twitter, a teen could live, learn and grow from the experience - though the narrator is the character tweeting this history.
As his publisher (Jacob Smullyan of Montclair’s own Sagging Meniscus Press) forcefully argues in the Foreword, the unusual form of the book is neither a gimmick nor irrelevant to its content, which concerns the coming of age of a teenage boy in a suburban New Jersey academic town in the years 1979 and 1980. The discontinuity of the book’s small sections, highlighting the tendency for each moment to crystallize as a separate experience, captures perfectly the young man’s alternation between sincere involvement and naive mystification as he is buffeted by the slings and arrows of experience. Sanderson is not only a Shakespeare director with deep experience, but a poet and composer; his use here of formalist restrictions shows poetic skill, and his organization of fragments into a dramatic and deeply moving whole draws on his considerable theatrical wisdom.