Twisters on Twitter

Author Arjun Basu of Montreal got on Twitter last fall and published a handful of “typically banal” tweets. Then inspiration hit and he created his first Twister. That’s what he calls his short short stories of 140 characters. Since then he’s written over a thousand Twisters and become a popular source for readers seeking a regular fix of micro-fiction.

Arjun_01_normal.jpgAs a child he delivered newspapers. As an adult he delivered bad news daily. Because he was a negative person. And the world’s worst surgeon 5:34 AM Apr 29th


Micro-fiction is not new to the web, as those of you who contributed to Sepia Mutiny’s flash fiction Fridays know. The shortest of the form might be six-word memoirs like the ones found at Smith Magazine. Links to more micro-fiction on the web are welcome in the comments.

Arjun_01_normal.jpgThey lived happily. At least that’s what they told their friends. It wasn’t true. The dog whined incessantly. And neither of them could cook 5:34 PM Jun 15th


Basu publishes each Twister as a “wholly formed” story. In a recent radio interview with Masala Canada he described each one as having a beginning, middle and end with some kind of transformation and read aloud a few of his favorites. His 140-character stories fall into different categories; romantic relationships, family, work and mundane experiences. The character limit poses a challenge each time. Occasionally he engages in “one bit of cheating,” leaving the final period off to prevent them from exceeding the character limit.

Arjun_01_normal.jpgAll the soccer moms wear their yoga gear while sipping lattes. Jones wonders which one to flirt with. He brought along his dog for a reason. 7:11 AM Jun 13th


Arjun_01_normal.jpgThe marriage didn’t survive the honeymoon. They acknowledged the majesty of their mistake. But they remained together. Because of the gifts. 7:52 AM Jun 15th


Arjun_01_normal.jpgThe chef entered the dining room to great applause. Except from Jerry. Who wanted ribs, not some deconstructed thing with foam. He threw up. 1:30 PM Jun 10th


When he’s not tweeting Twisters or working as an editorial director, Basu is writing a novel. Last year he came out with his first book “Squishy,” a collection of short stories about what he calls the squishy moments in life — the “minute moments or insignificant decisions” that “change our lives without our knowing.”

Arjun_01_normal.jpgWhen he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs about 2 hours ago


Arjun_01_normal.jpgThe air is fresh, the promise of something lovely in it, of magic. And then the wind shifts. And he is reminded he lives next to a pig farm. 7:51 AM Jun 9th


Publishing short stories on Twitter is another outlet for his writing and exercises a different part of his brain, according to Basu. It’s fun because the “feedback is almost instantaneous, and writers don’t usually get that. Some Twisters go out there and people start writing you within seconds. For a writer that’s almost like catnip.” (link)

Explaining the influence of poet and short-story writer Raymond Carver on his work, Basu said that “reading Carver, I understood, finally, that art exists in every moment of every life. Art doesn’t have to be ‘big.’ A real story, no matter how seemingly insignificant, exists everywhere. You just have to look for it.” You can look for Basu’s short stories @arjunbasu and read his most “favorited” stories here at Favotter.

37 thoughts on “Twisters on Twitter

  1. If you’d like to hear from the man himself, I interviewed Arjun Basu on the latest edition of my radio program “MASALA CANADA with Wojtek Gwiazda” http://www.rcinet.ca/masala His segment starts at about the 24 minute mark in the show. It was a really wonderful conversation, and insight into these short, short stories.

  2. Very interesting guy–testimony to the power of language–thanks much for the post! I’ve bookmarked his Twitter-page.

    This one keeps bothering me:

    When he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs

    Sorry to be a literalist twit, but how does she have toes if she has no legs? I’m obviously missing something. . . . enlightenment, anyone?

  3. When he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs Sorry to be a literalist twit, but how does she have toes if she has no legs?

    The really striking part was that he had no hands.

  4. Hi Wojtek. The episode featuring your interview with Basu is linked in the post. I think I’ll add the name of the program to the post too.

  5. Maybe the intention is that she’s shallow–feeling things “in her toes”–can only be metaphorically speaking, supposed to mean deeply, but false here, b/c she has no legs, equals marriage will not last?

    Not sure why this is bugging me!!

  6. She saw him and knew he was the one because he gave her butterflies in her stomach. And she’d just had it stapled:( Uh Oh, ER visit needed!

    (139 words)

  7. Hehe, Rahul, good one–maybe we can come up with a whole panoply of medical oddity “Twisters.”

  8. Rahul logeed onto Speia Mutiny with great excitement. As he scanned the right side of the page his heart sank. A tear dislodged. No Rob.

  9. Manju, no need to embarrass Rahul; he knows full-well that my admiration for him, whilst high, cannot compare to that which I have for certain Russian ladies at the Hyatt in Dubai!

  10. This reminds me of a kind of couplet the Indian lyricist Gulzar invented:

    Unlike sher, a triveni consists of three misras. The first two are complete in themselves, but the addition of the third misra gives a new dimension all together.
    ज़ुल्फ़ में यूँ चमक रही है बूँद जैसे बेरी में तनहा एक जुगनू क्या बुरा है जो छत टपकती है
    The droplet glitters in your hair As a lone firefly might in a briar So what if the roof leaks
  11. So what if the roof leaks

    Hehe–I’m just an ABCD, but that, for me, about explains 70% of why Desh remains poor. Totally explains why I don’t get along with my cousins, at all (well, other than me being a jerk in general ;-p ).

  12. Hehe–I’m just an ABCD

    Also, you interpret poetry as a primary source. That makes you a bad social scientist as well.

  13. That makes you a bad social scientist

    Yes; I tend to favor the humanities and real science.

  14. Yes; I tend to favor the humanities and real science

    . Is that why your policy prescriptions and political assessments suck? Your cousins may be onto something.

  15. Your cousins may be onto something.

    Yes, you’re right. This is why my cousins enjoy such a high status in Desh–they are regular geniuses. I regularly borrow money from them; of course, they are too kind to ever request repayment. :-p In fact, it is a wonder my parents came to the US at all–what were they thinking? We’ve had it so good in Desh for the past 1000 years. Yeah, I hate America.

  16. Yeah, I hate America.

    I’m wondering how you got that from my posts, but then again, you seemed to have discerned national character from a couplet (which could even be about a husband or lover making a flattering excuse to put off roof repairs! So much for your prowess in the humanities, champ). If I listened to a country song and took it as evidence that America was indeed a hard luck nation, I wouln’t be astute, I’d be an ass. That is what you seemed to have done here.

  17. a triveni consists of three misras

    That’s going to make Misraji quite envious of Triveniji

  18. That’s going to make Misraji quite envious of Triveniji

    So Mrs. Misra had noticed. Bristling, Misraji recalled the clumsy menage – a daft idea that followed a pyaala too many at the kavi samellan. (140 characters)

  19. Thanks for the links, Android and Sumana. That triveni is wonderful, chanda, and made me want more from Gulzar too. I can’t understand, but here’s a video of him reciting more.

  20. Sorry to be a literalist twit, but how does she have toes if she has no legs? I’m obviously missing something. . . . enlightenment, anyone?

    phantom limbs, peoples, phantom limbs

  21. oh! sorry, Rahul, I just read your #5. It’s not that I don’t hang on your every word….like some phantom remora.

  22. Much thanks for this post. On the question of the toes: well, yes, you are being too literal. The love she feels is so deep that she even feels it in the parts of the body she doesn’t have. That’s all I meant. I rarely “explain” anything but I thought I would intervene here. Thanks for reading everyone.

  23. Ahh–got it! I knew i was missing something on that one. Thanks for respondiing.

  24. Much thanks for this post. On the question of the toes: well, yes, you are being too literal. The love she feels is so deep that she even feels it in the parts of the body she doesn’t have. That’s all I meant. I rarely “explain” anything but I thought I would intervene here. Thanks for reading everyone.

    oh… that’s very thought oprovoking man. it makes me want to stroke my horn in pleasure with my giant proboscis.

  25. 140 words i can kinda sorta understand. 6 however makes me question the direction of human progress

  26. lest you be played for a sucker.

    she might like that, you know. different strokes.

    That triveni is wonderful

    yeah, and it is one of more accessible ones. thanks for the video, and I wanna say that I really enjoy your posts.

  27. I’ve gotten addicted to these twisters and have started writing some myself (http://twitter.com/Brevity24) I’m following a slew of “microfiction” authors including @twae (“Allusions peeked from behind trees. Farce and free verse shyly held hands. Rhyme and Rhythm danced. It was poetry in motion.”), @microprose (“A beach ball bobbed solemnly in Elliott Bay, its colorful curves touching the waves tangentially. Cat felt equally misplaced on the yacht.”), and @nanoisms (“silence, like darkness, can be kind; it, too, is a language.”).

    My favorite so far that I’ve written is this one: “Cheapskate’s watery pretense for buying plastic plants: ‘We’re going green.’”

  28. When he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs. Sorry to be a literalist twit, but how does she have toes if she has no legs?


    Well, when she does not have legs, but she can still feel it in her toes; clearly implies that she can feel the impossible, the magic in his stroke made her feel something which does not even exist… i mean she can feel it !!.. it’s getting difficult for me to explain now… but yeah.. I have both my feet but I can still feel the lines :)