Dispatches | November 13, 2013

Jonathan Franzen might hate Twitter, but we love it here at TMR. Literary Twitter, or the Twitterati, proves that great literature can be composed just as well in 140 characters as 1,400 pages. Yet it’s also fun to see that your favorite authors are suffering from a hangover or watching bad reality TV, too. But Twitter also benefits authors. When used for more than book promotion, Twitter is a powerful way to connect with readers, crowdsource ideas or take a much-needed break. Here are our favorite authors to follow on Twitter whether for sheer amusement or inspiration:

Neil Gaiman

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Twitterati’s rock star is Neil Gaiman. Gaiman tweets/retweets support for other writers, makes dry observations and updates us on his tour and writing process to keep the fans happy — and there are a lot of them. He was one of the first writers to figure out how to use Twitter to connect with readers, culminating in a crowdsourced Twitter short story earlier this year.

Roxane Gay

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Roxane Gay has developed a strong cult following thanks to her dynamic Twitter presence. She tweets about everything from writers of color to Lifetime movies to teaching (hilariously referring to her students as “babies”.) If you’re looking for smart commentary on a big news event or a good book recommendation, follow Roxane because she won’t disappoint.

Sherman Alexie

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Like his sharp characters, Alexie has the same irreverent wit in 140 characters as he does in his novels. Whether he’s tweeting about writing, race relations or basketball, his tone is always poetic or political with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Recurring feature: Alexie gives us a look into his mental state with his “my soul is…” feature, which is equal parts humorous and profound.

Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood seems to know everyone on Twitter to our delight. We can’t help but wish we were invited, too, whenever she’s jokingly flirting with comedian Rob Delaney or drinking champagne with Alice Munro. Oh well, Twitter is the next best thing.

 Colson Whitehead

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Colson Whitehead is that guy watching everyone at the party and making sardonic comments under his breath, except he’s so funny it’s okay. Nothing escapes his derision — from what he’s reading to fatherhood.

Maureen Johnson

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Although most writers cite Twitter as a distraction, Maureen Johnson has 10 young adult novels and nearly 68,000 tweets to her name. She’s known for trivial musings and calling out sexism in the publishing industry, especially with her thought-provoking “Cover Flip” trending topic in which she asked readers to submit covers as if the author were the opposite gender.

Ian Rankin

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Ian Rankin isn’t just a great crime novelist. He also has excellent taste in beer and records. We wouldn’t want to be a victim in one of his books, but we’d gladly down a pint or two with him.

Bret Easton Ellis

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Bret Easton Ellis is everyone’s favorite troll. Bashing fellow artists won’t get you many fans, but it does attract vindictive followers. We know following him isn’t good for us, but like Patrick Bateman, we just can’t help ourselves.

Emma Straub

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Emma Straub has been called one of the nicest people in the book industry right now and for good reason. Her tweets radiate enthusiasm as she recommends new novels, New York restaurants or 90210 reruns. It’s nice to see someone use social media to spread the love instead of the snark.

Joyce Carol Oates

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Joyce Carol Oates is a fan of composing long narratives both in novel and Twitter form. She poetically muses on everything from contemporary film to international relations (albeit sparking a lot of controversy for the latter) in serial tweets. Even if her thoughts don’t always make sense, they are certainly amusing.

R.L. Stine

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R.L. Stine is still giving us goosebumps, but this time it’s in 140 characters. The horror author is known for tweeting spooky stories, odd articles and sometimes scarily bad jokes.

John Green

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Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube — is there any social media John Green hasn’t conquered with his humor and political awareness? His characters might be enigmatic, but he uses Twitter to reach out to fans by thanking them for reading or telling them what to read next.

Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie is famous for picking fights and his Twitter is no exception. Fortunately, these fights are good spirited “literary smackdowns,” in which he pits two authors against each other and gets his followers to tweet support. Sometimes his tweets are less highbrow, though, as he discusses the Kardashians or tennis.

Judy Blume

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God might not have been there for Margaret, but Judy Blume is there for us. The author is 75 but tweets more than most teens and can still give great advice.

Michael Nye

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When Michael Nye isn’t managing TMR, he’s impressing us with his mad basketball skills or crazy routine of getting up at the crack of dawn to write.

Obviously, this is not a definitive list, especially because some of our favorite authors have yet to join Twitter, including:

-Lorrie Moore — Moore was born for Twitter. Her cutting wit would be perfect for a 140-character medium.

-Jane Austen — If Jane were alive today, she would definitely be tweeting snarky quips to avoid awkward conversation at the party.

-Ernest Hemingway — Short, to the point, honest sentences are ideal for Twitter. Although we have a feeling Hemingway would be a tad pretentious.

-W. H. Auden — No one understood yearning in the way he did and could get it out in 140 characters.

You can follow Tess @temalone.