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Monday, 6 April 2009

Blogs In Books

Browsing in a bookshop near Hampstead Heath yesterday, I came across Nick Laird's new novel, which I flicked through, before going on to other novels there, including my favourites, such as The Great Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited - works of masterful stylishness. I wouldn't want Eyewear's readers to think I don't enjoy good prose - sometimes, it can almost be as good as poetry. Anyway, back to this new novel. I haven't read it, of course, but I've read bits of it, in situ, and there seems to be a key character in the novel who is a thirty-something, chubby, frustrated Londoner who has a blog, where he basically rants about TV shows, films, albums he likes, books, etc.

Now, Laird has been lurking on the blogosphere, no doubt researching this character for his novel. I know this, because he's read Eyewear at least once or twice. I am glad to see bloggers in novels. It's a bit like Conrad tossing in an anarchist; or Maugham a scientist. Bloggers are a part of the zeitgeist, that's all. One day, they'll be quaint, and gone, like hack journalists with loose ties and pencils behind their ears. However, there's something condescending about the way that some in the literary firmament write about blogs and bloggers. Rather than viewing blogs as a new genre, worth exploring, it is treated more like a rash that should be eradicated, or ignored as best as possible. Irritating. The Establishment likes to be irritated - because it reminds them they exist.

What mostly irritates them is when someone, or some form, comes along, that they can't control, or black ball. Blogs are in that category - almost by definition, they are beyond anyone's borders. Anyway, I see the pathetic over-rated side of blogs, and agree with Laird's novel that many bloggers are lampoonable. Still, had Laird decided to himself write a sustained blog over several years, one engaged weekly with culture, and the world's events, as they flow or leap into view, he might have discovered the form as not being merely a platform for swipes and gripes (it is that sometimes sadly) - but a profound new way of communicating - with thousands around the world.

I am not sure it is entirely accurate to suggest that blogs might one day be seen as a new form of the novel, or memoir - non-fiction fiction of the Capote sort - but writing a sustained blog over half a decade is not simply an anti-social vice, or total waste of time. It is also a creative thing to do. Satire that merely simplifies does no one any favours. Meanwhile, I hope to read Laird's book, in the goodness of time. Maybe you should, too.
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