"Their mothers were distant cousins long estranged..."
October 20, 2014 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Exquisite Corpse [New York Times]
Taking their cue from the Surrealist parlor game, 15 renowned authors take turns contributing to an original short story.
Joshua Ferris:

Their mothers were distant cousins long estranged. They gave birth within minutes of each other, same hospital, different rooms. (I was not there.) The boy grew up west of the interstate, on the outskirts of the university; the girl in a high rise with a balcony overlooking the water. He won scholarships; she dropped out. Both married, had children, worked hard, suffered losses. In the end they were alone. She had an early-morning flight, he took the overnight. The next day they found themselves, before the small explosion, across from each other in the cafe, in a foreign land in the grip of turmoil, strangers still.

posted by Fizz (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This is a wonderful game! I've played it years ago (when I was a child, with a room full of thoughtful artist type adults). I still have the results somewhere. Our version was two words each.

I never knew what it was called. Wikipedia article.
posted by el io at 1:47 PM on October 20, 2014

When the MF jukebox was running we played a version of this with music tracks. Next song either had a word in common or some theme. Was great fun.
posted by curious nu at 2:02 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Today's lesson: if you don't want your exquisite corpse plotline invalidated by a cheesy, left-field twist, don't invite R.L. Stine.
posted by Iridic at 2:17 PM on October 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

curious, I played that with folks on "listeningroom.net" and on turntable.fm. Surely a service like that is still out there somewhere.
posted by DigDoug at 2:43 PM on October 20, 2014

R. L. Stine is one of the participants? Bookmarked to read after work.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:59 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do these round robin composition things ever really work? I mean, besides Naked Came the Stranger?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:13 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

There was a book published several years ago - it was the product of a class in writing, the students taking turns writing chapters. I remember very dimly a story about several characters going down into a cavern in search of ... something. The meta was that the first time one writer killed off another writer's character, they brought roses to the next night of the class(?) The whole thing is very faint in my memory now, and I'll never remember the title.
posted by newdaddy at 7:47 AM on October 21, 2014

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