This might be a new speed record in book collaboration and instant publishing. 2:46 Quakebook. Call for submissions: Twitter’s @OurManInAbiko. Three weeks later: an online version of the book. It’s going to print. Sales benefit Red Cross Japan.

It’s too raw to be history or memoir yet. As a genre, it’s closest to e-mail. Imagine Twitter posts with unlimited characters, or unedited radio interviews on the street, combined with fundraising, connection, catharsis. Here are two excerpts from longer entries. (As I choose these vivid lines for you, they become sound bites and Twitter posts.)

2:46 Quakebook Cover
2:46 Quakebook

“My 70-year-old mother refuses to go to a shelter and insists on staying at home. She says she’s not bothered by magnitude 3 earthquakes. Even though the government seems to have forgotten her, she is perfectly calm.” Yuki Watanabe, Tokyo

“I won’t forget the first video I saw of the tsunami. This black mass rolled over the landscape, gulping, chewing and spitting out everything in its path. I waited for the ebb to come, but it didn’t. The black water just kept going and going. I reversed the video and hit pause, staring at the scene frozen on my computer screen. I was frozen, too.” Sybil Murray, UK

I can see this idea catching on. Perhaps in the future, we’ll call these instant disaster anthologies “quakebooks.”

Quakebook

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011