I accidentally deleted my blogroll in a redesign, but I do enjoy reading blogs.
I have noted big changes online, however, in the last six months. Tom at A Common Reader has quit to do other things, Kevin at Interpolations has been on hiatus, and Belle at Belle, Book, and Candle, who faithfully wrote beautiful little vignettes daily, has cut back to once a week (and who can blame her?) .
There is also the trend of the “group blog.” The Mookes and the Gripe is a well-established group blog, highly recommended by fellow bloggers. Stuck-in-a-Book now uses his blog almost exclusively to provide links to group blogs.
I do understand why blogs are changing.
There are always new platforms on the internet for writing.
And writing about books is hard.
At my old blog, I was (I thought) fast, fun, and facile. At Mirabile Dictu, I hope I am still fast, fun, and facile, but I wanted to write occasionally about non-book-related things.
I was also influenced in part by Howard Jacobson’s satiric novel, Zoo Time. In this hilarious novel, a publisher commits suicide because he has been ordered to tell his writers to “twit” and “blag.”
When he asks at lunch if the hero, Guy, a novelist, “blags,” Guy says,
“The blog’s the end of everything,” [Merton] said.
The blog belongs to yesterday, I wanted to tell him.
I thought this was very, very funny, but… damn. We like to write, we’re addicted readers of literature, and so we “blag.”
I do think there are ups and downs with blogs.
And then there is the Book Whoredom problem.
It’s hard to be a book whore if you’re reading Doris Lessing or Tolstoy.
But sometimes publicists approach us. The new book sounds good, we’re dying to read it, and we like to get packages from UPS.
“This is a free book,” I tell my husband dramatically.
The book may be good, or at least pretty decent, but sometimes it’s not quite for me. And then I worry if it’s better to write something or nothing.
I just don’t read that much contemp lit, so I accept few review copies. This year in my “Best of” sidebar I have mentioned five living writers: Joan Chase, Karen Joy Fowler, Alice Hoffman, Michelle Hunevan, and D. J. Taylor.
I am reading an excellent new novel at the moment, thank God, and will write about it soon. But in my 50s, I’ve grown increasingly picky. If a book disappoints, I don’t finish it.
I wonder: will there still be blogs in ten years? So many people seem bored with them.
I can imagine us all offline…
And that is why I shouldn’t read the dystopian novel, California. I am such a pessimist.