John Updike and Kurt Vonnegut are two writers who are getting tangled up in the Net with a writing contest and an email cyberhoax

Two major members of the literati have gotten tangled up in the Net, with exhilarating consequences. Novelist John Updike made his cyberdebut this summer, contributing the first paragraph of a mystery story as an undisguised promo scheme for the bookselling website In the first week after ”Murder Makes the Magazine” went up, some 80,000 entries flooded in — and were judged by the six bleary-eyed editors assigned to pick a paragraph a day to keep the story rolling (Updike will furnish the concluding paragraph on Sept. 12). Meanwhile, novelist Kurt Vonnegut found himself involved in a cyberhoax, as a global E-mail published the text of a commencement speech he purportedly gave at MIT. The whimsical essay, beginning ”Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 1997: Wear sunscreen,” was actually written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich. Stranger than fiction, indeed.