the state of things


The Lonesome Death of the 10 Second Novel

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:22 on 30 March 2011

We come at last to the end of the 10 Second-10 a.m. Barney Thomson Novel, the Twitter experiment that blazed a magnificent trail of fiction across the blogosphere, peaking in a shimmering miasma of irradiant beauty, before crashing quickly to earth, the bubble burst on a spiralling tale of drugs, women and doughnuts. At the fulcrum of its influence, the 10-10 as it became known, was read by over 18 million readers every day. By the end that number was closer to just 18.

Some commentators, such as Professor Malcolm Holmwood of the University of Glasgow, have no doubts about the significance of the 10-10, its place in modern culture and the part it had to play in defining Britain in the year 2011. 'The importance of the 10-10 cannot be overestimated,' Professor Holmwood told me this morning. 'What Lindsay did here was take the novel, the richest, most complicated and versatile literary format in history, and turned it into a bite-size piece of mindless crap. It was junk food literature, absolutely typical of this day and age, where people have no time to invest in anything other than themselves and various hedonistic pleasures. As such, the 10-10 is magnificently representative of these shallow, shallow days in which we live.'

However, not everyone is so positive about the 10-10's place in history. When this reporter contacted the British Library today, he could find no one who would even admit to having heard of the 10-10. Such ignorance, while unusual, is only to be expected.

It all began, long ago, on 1st November 2010, with the following astonishing 140 character novel of quite extraordinary depth.

Halloween had been uneventful in Millport, with only 9 murders. Barney was relieved, despite the decapitated chicken nailed to his gatepost.

The 10-10 made an instant impact, with The Bookseller creating its own 10 Second Novel Chart, with one of Lindsay's Barney Thomson mini-epics quickly filling each place in the Top 10. The classic 10-10s came thick and fast.

"This is not the barbershop you're looking for," said Barney, once more using his new Jedi skills to rid the shop of an unsavoury customer.

The pool of blood on the barbershop floor told its own story...

Barney was a little disconcerted when the flesh-eating zombie entered his shop, but it transpired he was just after a Shaun Of The Dead cut.

'It's Christmastime, there's no need to be afraid,' said Durrant, tho' the knife he held 2 inches from Barney's testicles told another tale.

Unsure at whom their Day of Rage should be aimed, the townspeople marched on the barbershop, clutching torches and copies of Hello magazine.

As ever the Zeitgeist King, Barney's Limited Edition haircuts pandered to modern aesthetics as well as to the individuality of the customer.

The success of the 10-10 was at its height in early 2011, although already there were whispers around the internet of signs of trouble. Readers began to notice that more often than not the novel would miss its allotted 10 a.m. time slot. Rumours began to circulate that Lindsay was running out of ideas. Others said that he was staying out all night in the seedy stripper bars of Somerset, snorting cocaine out of women's pants and drinking astonishing cocktails with names like Sex With A Nun and Sex With A Zombie and Sex With A Frog.

Disaster struck in early March 2011 when Lindsay penned the following 10-10 Novel:

Ed Miliband sat in the chair, asking to be made to look statesmanlike for PMQs. 'Can't do it,' said Barney. 'How about one of the Muppets?'

The novel went viral, with virtually everyone in Brian Cox's UniverseTM downloading it. However, from that moment on, the political elite in the UK were out to get Lindsay, and his downfall was virtually assured. When it was quickly followed by the classic:

There was a man from the Mail in the chair. 'The media,' said Barney, 'cannot handle nuance.' Wacko Barber's Drug Rant, screamed the papers.

suddenly the media were also out to get him, and the final nails were soon being hammered into the coffin.

The following few weeks told a familiar story of decline and fall, as Lindsay was led astray by sometimes as many as fifteen MI5 honey traps in one evening. Ultimately, however, the final end of the 10-10 was to come at the hands of Greggs, as Lindsay ate so many doughnuts he was barely able to type.

The quality of the 10-10 was frittered away like so much stardust, and with it went the audience, the money, the fame and the glamourous lifestyle. The end came suddenly and abruptly, but sadly no one was there to witness it. And so the 10 Second-10 a.m. Barney Thomson Novel is gone, and few are those who will lament its passing.

'It's a typical tale,' said Professor Arwyn Brookes of Cambridge Polytechnic. 'These young authors come out of nowhere, they write a complete load of pish, people buy into it because it's cheap and easy and crass and that's what society craves, and then they eat too many sugar-coated and before you know it, they're fucked.'

This morning, as the ashes from the cremation that was the final end of the 10-10 are blown away in the wind like Harry Callaghan's dried-up dog shit, the world of crime fiction stands on an uncomfortable precipice, not knowing quite what the future holds.

Comment from Markus at 09:40 on 31 March 2011.
In my opinion the 10-10 was great and just ahead of its time. In 5 or 20 years, the concept of the 10-10 is going to be widely known and appreciated. Like many great minds, Lindsay was unacknowledged by the literary elite but in retrospect people are going to say: "The instant novel? Sure, heard about it. Didn't this King or Brown guy come up with it?"

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