For the past week I’ve been devouring short stories while pooping. Reading plus excreting is hardly a revolutionary pairing, but the words of the prophets written on the subway bathroom walls have been losing ground to Candy Crush of late. Myself, I’m a stories man so I was happy for an excuse to indulge in some light to occasionally heavy reading.
In essence, the new website is Uber for not having to think about your bowels. A sleek collection of short stories taken from Project Gutenberg, Poop Fiction offers stories by length: tiny, short, medium, or long. I’ve boned up on my Aesop, Robert Louis Stevenson, Leo Tolstoy, and James Baldwin, who probably wouldn’t have loved the project. The interface is clean and cheerful, and one of the best features is the shuffle button that tumbles through all the stories of your preferred length.
If there’s a bit of a downside, it’s that these stories are starting to show their expired-copyright age: Ending your story with an all-caps “MORAL” followed by a quip like, “His strength in words the blusterer vainly spends, While steadiness in quiet gains its ends,” might have been Aesop’s genre-defining shtick, but it comes off a bit preachy in 2015. Somebody make a premium Poop Fiction version with some George Saunders or Year’s Best Sci-Fi, or really any contemporary short fiction at all, and I’m on that porcelain throne till I can’t feel my legs.
Also, I know how my phone works and I’ve got emails and whatnot to catch up on. I’m a busy guy.
That said, the project comes across as a graceful update to the joke books and collections, notably “TK” by W.C. Privy, that remain next to the commodes of hip octogenarians.