When Jess Mateychuk entered the tourism office in Grenoble, France, he wasn’t looking for information about the city. “I finally found them!” the twenty-one-year-old exchange student from Winnipeg, Canada, said with excitement. He was referring to the city’s recent cultural innovation turned Internet hit: a black and orange, rocket-looking cylinder that spits out short stories, free of charge.
Under a glass panel labelled “Distributeur d’histoires courtes” (“Short-story distributor”), he found three numbered buttons: one, three, and five. The numbers refer to how many minutes a story will take to read. Jess chose three. The button flickered and a long ticket—a bit like a supermarket receipt, but on thicker paper—slipped out. “Chambre avec vue, by Blandine Butelle,” the top of the sheet announced. It was a fictional dialog between two pensioners. (“I’m telling you he’s not snoring anymore!” “Come on, Jacqueline, that doesn’t mean he’s dead!” it begins.) Mateychuk printed more stories, “for later,” as William Haettel, an employee in the tourism office, looked on. “Improbable things have happened since we got these,” he said. “Italian tourists have taken selfies with them. They work incredibly well, and it’s not even peak season.” Ten minutes later, the machine was out of paper.
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Source Credits: Pauline Bock in The New Yorker