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APRIL 9, 2012
What’s Your Status?: 420 Characters, by Lou Beach

I’ll begin with an admission: when I heard that graphical artist Lou Beach had come out with a book of short stories that were originally status updates on his Facebook page, I thought to myself, There is no source so idiotic that writers won’t try to mine it for material. As you could guess, my expectations were modest, but as I read, I noticed that the stories were sharp, observant and funny enough to cause internal bleeding (known as “busting a gut” in polite society). Each story is diminutive, none exceeding the 420-character limit imposed by the status function on Facebook. Beach’s stories have an artist’s sensibility, each observation sharp and economical, like this little beauty:

THE HOTEL WAS ON FIRE, the guests marooning out front in evening clothes, pajamas, wrapped intowels. The building was saved from major damage by an efficient and powerful overhead extinguisher system that also managed to ruin furniture and clothes and TVs and books and laptops. A sprinkler intervention took place in room 807 as I spread an ounce of coke on the table.
Deceptively satisfying, this is a book for all occasions: light and brief enough to be read on the bus or in bed, but smart enough to make you retract all of your half-cocked comments about authors mining idiotic sources. But don’t take my word for it: let Beach be the one to convince you.

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