Posted by: flexiblegoat | November 29, 2009

Texts from Last Night

Texts from Last Night

It’s not exactly news this, but I’ve just noticed that one of my favourite websites is being made in to a book, to be published (somewhat inexplicably) just after Christmas. Texts from Last Night is quite, quite brilliant. Granted, the texts do revolve around two core themes – sex and alcohol – but it still manages to be addictive to the point where I can happily binge for hours, only tearing myself away when I realise I’m re-reading ones I enjoyed on the last visit. The texts reveal a level of debauchery on behalf of American college students that makes me wonder whether I wasted my university years by not getting wasted enough; but their appeal is not limited to shock value: from time to time you come across some real surrealist gems, such as when one recipient is informed that they tried to eat their girlfriend’s tampons because they thought it would end her period. There’s also something immensely satisfying about the snappiness of the language and slang these “kids” employ, which radiates a kind of nihilistic self-confidence. Another thing I’m stuck by is how nasty some of the texts or the episodes they detail are. If you have to ask your friend whether inflicting sex with your new boyfriend on your ex via his mobile phone is mean or not, there has to be something a little strange going on in your head.

A tendency to treat your fellow human beings like the excrement on the sole of your shoe is also in evidence on another blog-turned-book, FMyLife.com. The most common scenarios that lead people to exclaim “Fuck My Life” appear to be being told by a child that you’re fat or ugly, or discovering that your partner of x years has been dating someone else for the span of your relationship. All the mini-confessions begin with “Today,” and end with “FML”, which makes them a lot more formulaic and less free-wheelingly surreal than the texts on Texts from Last Night. The fact that publishers appear to be falling over themselves to publish internet blogs is something I probably would get vaguely grumpy about if I didn’t find these sites both hilarious and darkly compelling. I remember being told a few years ago by a young editor that she was constantly on the look out for new blogs that would translate well into print. Now it appears that agents are extracting six-figure fees for the rights to the more successful sites, so I wonder whether the days when an observant editor could pick them up on the cheap are gone (if they ever existed). I also wonder how long the trend for these books will continue. At a time when the future of the physical book is apparently in doubt, taking content from the internet and putting it between the covers of a paperback seems like swimming against a thaw-swelled stream. I love both these sites, but I’d never even consider buying the books.

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