December 7th, 2011 / 3:44 pm

ToBS R1: lit blogging at age 35 vs. tweeting at age 45

[Matchup #22 in Tournament of Bookshit]

Using two specific examples I will discuss lit blogging at age 35 versus tweeting at age 45 and declare a winner. I’d like to note that this entry is merely in the spirit of Mean Week. I respect both Matt and Deb. The idea alone that I thought of their names when considering this topic should only be aligned with admiration. And neither is a true winner. If you’re involved in any way – writer, reader, twitter user, lit blogger – in the “lit scene,” you’re a loser by default. Happy Mean Week, nerds.

Example One: Lit blogging at age 35

Lit blogger Matt Bell at age 32* discussing publication in PANK (see blog post dated 2/9/2010 titled “Mantodea in PANK 4”). Bell, married (see countless facebook and twitter references to “beautiful wife Jessica”) lit blogs 489 words on the occasion of receiving his contributor copy of the rarely read cover-to-cover publication.

In the post, Bell types wince-inducing lines such as, “Curiously, this is the last strictly realist story I’ve yet written.” But he cleverly alters the potentially ham-fisted self-congratulatory post (in an unusually brash move, Bell includes the opening graph of his published story in his post) by listing all 60+ contributors, thanking the editors in a seemingly heartfelt way, and in what can only be described as lit blogging genius, diverts attention away from his acceptance by enthusiastically noting how he also received a copy of Aaron Burch’s chapbook, which, not mentioned, is published by the editors of PANK. Well done, Mr. Bell.

Bell’s positive attitude, his dedication to supporting literatures neophytes by lit blogging, and his love for his wife is exactly why he is respected by many and blocked on my facebook.

I can clearly imagine Bell completing his “Mantodea in PANK 4” post then enjoying an evening with his wife. Perhaps a meal (see Bell’s October 28 facebook post “Now writing in a bar, waiting for the lovely Jessica to get off work so we can go to dinner.”) followed by a romantic evening and morning fornication to continue a blissful life (see November 9 wall post at 9 am from Jessica to Bell: “I’m glad that I got to spend a few extra minutes with you, too. Hope you have a good day. Love you!”) Noted – Bell likes the post and also comments “I love you,” which Jessica in return likes.

In conclusion, Bell has nauseatingly balanced both lit blogging and a successful married life and you will hear about it. His age seems to have no negative or positive effect on his lit blogging.

Example Two: Tweeting at age 45

May 13, 2011 tweet from Deb Olin Unferth (age 43*, possibly divorced, unquestionably alone – see tweets “Where is everybody today? I’m all alone in here” on November 12 and January 15 tweet “3:19 a.m. is anyone out there? oh world…”) reads: “why the hell is everybody going to see bridesmaids? what the hell is bridesmaids?”

The inquiry about the critically mixed-reviewed blockbuster receives no reply or retweet. Increasing the devastation, the tweet takes place on the film’s opening day, leading one to believe Unferth has paid attention to the release of the raunchy female-driven comedy and contains slight interest in seeing it. If not for interest, Unferth has consumed enough television to be aware of not only the movie, but the precise release date. Crippled with loneliness, Unferth sounds her tweet (pretending to not know what the film is) hoping for either an invitation or ironic reply. Neither take place.

Unferth has always transcended her disabilities (see age, financial status, choice of bio photos, society dominated by white men like Matt Bell) and has aligned herself with some of the trendiest and respected creative outlets (see McSweeney’s, Ben Marcus, VICE, etc). She is viewed by the hipster literati as perennially youthful, and I can easily imagine the waifish scribe brunching at Brooklyn’s Le Gamin while indifferently flipping through her latest contributors copy of NOON.

However, Unferth’s choice to join twitter on November 25 of last year has been more of an exercise in desperation (see self-promoting retweets and @’s which consume more than 40% of her feed) and lameness (see embarrassing December 2, 2010 tweet “My mom, doing her best to keep up, tells dad that I’ve become a “twit” now. That’s TWEETER, mom!”) than a further expansion of her ironically puerile and laid-back humorous prose.

In conclusion, twitter has grotesquely morphed the now entering middle aged Unferth into a stream of clichés and retweets, thus aging the user.


It’s difficult to decide, especially when the extreme over-the-shoulder close-up of Bell with “I fucked your Mom smirk” is cindered into your brain (see Kyle Minor’s insufferably academic HTMLGIANT interview “A Correspondence with Matt Bell”). And Unferth, on many occasions, can be funny and very likeable on twitter. I hear she bakes cookies. Perhaps age alone is the deciding factor. Or the large field lit blogging allows gives Bell the slight advantage. Additional age-disparity studies (Lin vs. Kimball; Baumann vs. Cooper; Bailey vs. DiTrapano) would be helpful in reaching a conclusion, a winner. But judging on a strict “who is happiest” criteria, the winner is Bell and lit blogging at age 35.

*I realize both samples don’t apply exact age. For the study I used a 10 year difference.

Shane Jones

– – –

WINNER: lit blogging at age 35

Tags: ,


  1. Leapsloth14

      This is pretty good. The wife thing is classic and that fucking huge photo of Matt’s face. I can laugh pretty well at both, since I am most likely jealous of Matt’s marital bliss and certainly wish I could write like Unferth.

  2. M. Kitchell

      this is amazingly hilarious

  3. Ken Baumann

      Baumann vs. Cooper FTW

  4. Rob

      What a pussyish preface. If you’re going to do mean weak, man up.

  5. Mason Johnson

      “… in the “lit scene,” you’re a loser by default.”!!!

  6. Anonymous

       That’s an age difference of what, 36 years?

  7. mdbell79


      Also, to be fair, that example was lit blogging at 29. At that age, Shane’s blog was just pictures of him in pastel v-neck t-shirts.

  8. Columbus

      Matt Bell and Roxanne,
      sittin’ in a tree,

      First comes love,
      then  comes marriage,
      then comes Aaron
      in the baby carriage!

  9. Rob

      I meant “mean week,” although the preface itself was perhaps “mean weak.”

  10. Anonymous

  11. Anonymous

  12. OMG

      omg, so many hilarious, nailed-it line. like “[this] is exactly why [Bell] is respected by many and blocked on my facebook.” and: “Bell has nauseatingly balanced both lit blogging and a successful married life and you will hear about it.” matt has taken it like a pro here, too, btw. cheers to all involved (regular week). i mean, fuck you (mean week)!

  13. jesusangelgarcia

      Yes, most beautiful. Favorite line: “society dominated by white men like Matt Bell.” Close second: “in the “lit scene,” you’re a loser by default.” Also, I like the preface. You don’t have to be mean to be “mean.”

  14. Chappy

      Wanting what is ‘what’ exactly, particularly in the grove with “gloves” of membrane [glowing greedily]? Are we starring up the drain? Ha ha ha. I say!

  15. crispin best

      i wish i’d been meaner

  16. Anonymous

  17. Anonymous

  18. Anonymous


      […] This post yesterday was goddamn funny. I almost laughed my ass off. I laughed, and I enjoyed the laughing, because I am worn out, time kills you, existence is terrifying, laughing is the meds, it feels good to included and not to be the one getting laughed at. The laughing is temporary shelter from bigger extinction, by way of smaller inclusion. I’m not alone. Someone else is alone. Not me. […]

  20. Molly Gaudry

      More pics of young Shane in t-shirts please. :)

  21. christopher.


  22. Roxane

      Damn right. Way to represent. 

  23. christopher.

      You know how I do.

  24. Roxane

      Oh yeah I do.

  25. bootlicker

      The only thing more gag-worthy than Matt Bell’s rah-rah (and incessant) Facebook posts is how many people “like” every fucking thing he says. He’s like, Tonight my lovely wife Jessica made a five-course gourmet dinner and then I wrote 5,862 new pages on my newest novel! And 4,823 bootlickers (including me) “like” it. So we’re all just encouraging him! Can I ask: Why?

  26. Jonathan Safran Foer

      He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself.

  27. Jonathan Safran Foer

      Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.

  28. Jonathan Safran Foer

      I hope that one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love.”

  29. Jonathan Safran Foer

      What do you think of her non-fiction? I was un-wowed. Fiction is smashing tho

  30. Columbus

      Christofer and Roxanne,
      sittin’ in a tree,

      First comes love,
      then comes marriage,
      then comes Matt Bell
      in the baby carriage!

  31. deadgod

      ph and one-n
      sitting in a tree–

      first comes push,
      then comes shove,
      then comes fingerpaint:
      pictionary love!

  32. Leapsloth14

      JSF, I was also un-wowed by her nonfiction. A big yawnage I did mow.

  33. Leapsloth14

      I sort of wonder if we could all ban marriage-based facebook posts and get along as humans better?

      Just a thought.

  34. Columbus

      “Go ahead, caller, you’re on the air…”



      “Well, folks, whoever this Matt Bell *is* he sure has some loyal fans.  Alrighty then, next caller, YOU’RE on the air…”



  35. Columbus

      “Matt, dear, please stop calling that radio station, dinner’s ready!”

      “Be right there, honey-smooch…”

      (picks up phone.  hits speed dial.)

      “Hello, Caller!  You’re on the air!”



  36. Ummmm

      the only men who incessantly have to say “my lovely wife” are those whose wives really aren’t that lovely. Just sayin.