Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
420 Characters Hardcover – December 6, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
There is a dreamy poetry to these pieces, and even the less successful experiments are gems for thoughtful readers to treasure. If Facebook can inspire gifted artists to create beauty like this, I'm willing to forgive it for every hour it has ever drained from people wasting their time on Farmville. This is one of my new favorite books.
Pure curiosity drew me to this book. I wanted to know what kind of stories could be written with 420 characters. After reading Lou Beach's book, I can attest that a lot can be said in six or seven typewritten lines.
When I first started reading the book, I tried to find a common thread or a pattern that would bring the stories together. Pretty soon, it became evident that it was better to give up the search for a unifying theme. Instead, each story is best read as a stand-alone even though there might be a recurrent name or event. Some of the stories just play with the incongruous. Others are meant for imagery. But most of them are what I called moments of realization caught in a paragraph. These stories have characters. Some are named. Many remain nameless and speak in the first or third person. These nameless voices belong to individuals that seemed to come from all walks of life. These men and women may be single or married, old or young, law abiding citizens or criminals, victims or predators, rich or destitute. They live in the present or in some undetermined time in the past where wars were fought with sables and on horses. They allude of places like the suburbs, a campfire, mines, farms, a studio, prison and even outer space.
"420 Characters" was hard to rate for me. On one hand, I could marvel at the observational and writing skills needed to distill and convey into a few precise words the character's whole experience. On the other hand, I could see why the book may not be for everybody. It is hard to get an emotional reaction from characters we hardly have any time to know. Most of them are faceless and nameless and as such will fade from the readers' minds once they close the book. What happened after to these characters will never be known, anyway. This is a book that appeals to the intellect because liking "420 Characters" hinges more on "Oh, I got it!" than on "Oh, I feel for you."
I would, however, highly recommend reading only a handful of stories at a time. Too many more and the reader is overwhelmed by the writer's talent and audacity. Ironically, though, reading too many at a time also gives the stories something of a feeling of a gimmick, and they deserve so much more respect that to be viewed in that manner.
There is an entry near the end of the book that captures the mood of these entries at their best. Like all the rest, it has no title. It just starts.
HE SITS IN THE SUN rearranging the past, and tries to keep warm. He knows words, says them, but has forgotten their meaning. They hang all about, sparkling, just out of reach, the crystals on a chandelier he can't light. His memory rings like a wind chime, sounding clear and bright, then dwindles to random jingles and clinks.
Neither prose nor poem, this and other entries attempt to exploit the new resource made available to us by vehicles like Facebook and Twitter. I think Beach succeeds, but this book is not everybody's cup of tea.
Oh! There are several black and white illustrations in this book which are killers. They're really good, like Max Ernst updated to today.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This little book is a real keeper. It's amazing to be able to tell a powerful story in only a paragraph, but the author does it.Published 13 months ago by Terry
I was already familiar with this book, having paged through it at my sister's home. I like that it can be picked up, opened to any place in the book, and put down at any time. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Bunny in Pittsburgh
This is certainly interesting, slightly clever, but nothing unique or special whatsoever. Anybody with a lick of talent and some spare time could produce something comparable if... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Phillip G. Bledsoe
Lou Beach is one of the most talented artisits in many mediums, but his sense of the story within the context of 420 Characters takes on into a totally different rhelm. Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by Virginia Hunter
This is a unique read. It is funky, unique, and the stories I wish I had written. They are like thoughts that one has while driving through a long stretch of abandoned road when... Read morePublished on December 8, 2013 by gojobooks
This was a gift for my wife... though, I too enjoyed reading it. Easy to pick-up for a short escape into the author's imagination. Read morePublished on December 6, 2013 by Dane Honhart
This ever so slight, cliche ridden sliver of a book of 420 vignettes about absolutely nothing at all is a fitting metaphor for today's publishing industry. Read morePublished on July 6, 2012 by Eileen Pierce
Have I got the mini-encyclopedia for you! No entry is longer than 420 characters and each one is chock full of fascinating insights into the world view of your average Manhattan... Read morePublished on April 23, 2012 by Patrick Odaniel
can't put it down once you start, and you can start anywhere. all the characters are great and will remind you of some of the characters you have known along the way.Published on April 5, 2012 by jo jackson