Guest blog: Beloved book characters on Twitter

Forget Ashton Kutcher. Isn't there a favorite fictional character you would rather follow on Twitter?

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There’s only one celebrity I regularly check out on Twitter, and that’s a semi-fictional one. I double up laughing at “Half-Pint Ingalls,” a tweeter adopting the voice of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” books, who died in 1957.

Half-Pint” isn’t the only literary character sending out 140-character missives on Twitter. Mystery author Laurie R. King tweets in the voice of Mary Russell, heroine of “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” and its sequels, for instance. Anne of Green Gables tapped out a few notes, though she’s apparently gone dormant. (There’s even another pseudo-Laura Ingalls Wilder, at twitter.com/lingallswilder.) But no one I’ve found even attempts “Half-Pint’s” deadpan conversations, a virtual Cuisinart of insouciant, anachronistic humor paired with modern Twitter conventions. References to “The Rules” and Swiffers and Banned Books Week scatter her literary trail, along with salt pork and threshers and claim-jumpers.

Half-Pint’s “Twittergraph” posts began in July of 2008 with the note “Anything more than 140 characters is a waste of lamp kerosene anyway,” and moved on to unauthorized comments like these:

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

“Hate covered wagon trips. Playing Travel Bingo to pass the time, but since every bingo space is "PRAIRIE" it's not much fun.”

What am I doing? TWISTING HAY INTO STICKS. Thanks for asking, Twitter! #longwinter

“It'd be a riot if I dressed up as a grasshopper plague for Hallowe'en, wouldn't it? Or is that "too soon?"

More than 5,000 people now “follow” her tweets, listing her under categories like “funny” and “randomly awesome”. It’s hardly Ashton Kutcher’s millions, but large enough that I’m always relieved to see she hasn’t been shut down by the long arm of whatever legal department guards Wilder’s legacy. In the sea of PR and “platform-building” and salesmanship that pervade Twitter, anyone who clearly loves the same characters I love – and makes me laugh about them in an entirely new way – is welcome, at least in my book.

Want to hear more? “Half-Pint” was interviewed on the Six Boxes website. The American Booksellers Association claimed in passing that author Wendy McClure is the face behind the tweets. McClure explains here that she is working on a first-person book exploring Wilder’s life and fandom.

The laws and customs of Twitter are being figured out in as slow and cumbersome a way as those in the pioneer West, so we can only guess what the future holds for Half-Pint… but there is, at least, now a Rose Wilder Lane, Laura’s daughter (1886-1968), with an account all her own.

Rebekah Denn blogs at eatallaboutit.com.

(Chapter & Verse readers are reminded that you can access the 1/5/10 Monitor Books podcast either through iTunes or by clicking here.)

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