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Why would you read Hamlet’s life story when you could just skim his Facebook news feed? A new book makes it possible to do just that.

IT STARTED
with the oversharing. Some of Sarah Schmelling’s friends were offering a little too much information in their Facebook status updates. Late one night, she began to think about the craziest thing she could imagine in a status update, and that’s when the former English major’s brain tumbled to Hamlet’s beloved Ophelia and what she might write as she was losing her mind. Now we can all know the answer, as Schmelling’s new book, Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook (Plume, $15), hits bookshelves. In her debut novel, she brings a slew of classic literary characters and their creators to (online) life.

Whom did you have the most fun writing about?
I attempted to write a Ulysses news feed. It was just way too hard. So I ended up doing a profile page for [James Joyce], and it was really fun. He tried to do status updates in the forms he did the chapters in Ulysses -- in the form of a song or a catechism. I had a lot of fun with Don Quixote. One of his friends is being “super poked,” which he doesn’t understand, and he’s trying to defend her honor.

Were there any characters you wanted to include but decided they would never go for online social networking?
There are definitely people in this book, [like Ernest Hemingway], who in a million years would never be on Facebook. I didn’t steer clear of them because of that. If anything, I just made their behavior to show that they were unhappy to be on there but were still there.

Which characters would take the most quizzes?
I think certainly some of the writers who thought a lot about themselves. I even have Hemingway taking an Are You a Real Man? quiz.

Has playing the part of so many characters changed how you feel about social networking?
I thought that the second I was finished writing the book, I would stop looking at Facebook so much, but I really haven’t. I think I’m addicted to it. [While I was writing the book,] I was taking notes about my poor Facebook friends, who didn’t even know it. It gave me so many ideas. I still appreciate a great status update.


FICTION WORTH FOLLOWING


Social-networking sites like Facebook give us a peek into the personal lives of friends, family, and sometimes, people we don’t even know. Twitter, the site that allows users to post status updates in 140 characters or less, forces users to be concise with their cleverness. In the spirit of Sarah Schmelling’s hilarious new tome, here are a few fictional characters whose tweeting amuses us.


(And be sure to follow American Way on Twitter at twitter.com/americanway). -- J.S.

The Office’s Kelly Kapoor
twitter.com/IAmKellyFierce
Sample tweet: “Drank too many bay breezes at Tinks last Friday night. I got sick! I must be allergic to cranberry juice.”

Common Squirrel

twitter.com/common_squirrel
Sample tweet: “run run run run run”

True Blood’s William Compton

twitter.com/vampireBill
Sample tweet: “Life pours from her house. And once again, I am reminded of the distinct differences in our natures.”

Darth Vader

twitter.com/darthvader
Sample tweet: “Note to self: Find and then ‘let go’ the dolts who designed our Super Star Destroyers without so much as a backup bridge.”

Mad Men’s Don Draper

twitter.com/_Don Draper
Sample tweet: “Thinking. And drinking.”