"Black Box" by Jennifer Egan
(Photo by Dan Winters)
Today on “What Should You Read While The New Yorker’s Archives Are Open,” we’ve got the amazing "Black Box" by Jennifer Egan. The story first appeared in 2012 Summer Fiction issue, which focused on science fiction and was definitely the last great one to date. As you might notice from the style, Egan wrote the story using Twitter and famously serialized it in tweets across ten nights. But what really makes this piece move is a totally fascinating, prescriptive second-person perspective, where each tweet is instructional and the action takes place in the gap. Check it:
If your subject is angry, you may leave your camouflage position and move as close to him as possible to improve recording quality.
You may feel afraid as you do this.
Your pounding heartbeat will not be recorded.
If your Designated Mate is standing on a balcony, hover in the doorway just behind him.
If he pivots and discovers you, pretend that you were on the verge of approaching him.
Anger usually trumps suspicion.
If your subject brushes past you and storms out of the room, slamming the door, you have eluded detection.