The Blog Is Dead & Why Would Anyone Want FaceTime?

The blog is dead.

Well, is it?

Today I read an incomprehensible article in USA Today.  A caption under the photograph said, “Instagram performers Andrea Russett and Baby Ariel tell how their alliances with brands like Nordstrom, Nike and Soap and Glory helps the companies reach the ever-elusive young consumer on #TalkingTech.”

I did not understand a word.  I  felt like my mother, who had no interest in tech.

No, blogging is enough for me.

I was determined to find some new book blogs.

In my search for new blogs of note, I visited several blogs tonight, some for the first time.  Although I recently deleted my blogroll,  I do find other people’s blogrolls enlightening and did some link-hopping tonight.

We book bloggers all do the same things.

We read a lot of books, and are forever adding books to our TBR lists.  We leave short comments, saying sincerely that we hope to read the fascinating books.  We lament that we don’t have time to read everything.  We participate in challenges, or  readalongs, often inadvertently.  Who knew that by reading Jane Austen I am participating in a 200th-anniversary-of-Jane’s-death readalong?

Two excellent blogs I discovered recently:  Booker Talk and 1streading’s Blog.

So the blog is not dead.  It is just hard to find new ones.


My husband wanted to set up FaceTime on my tablet.

“What’s wrong with the phone?” I asked.

Why would I want to chat on video in pajamas, with my hair squashed down, without makeup, with a cold, surrounded by Kleenex and cups of tea?  Does any woman of my age  want FaceTime unless she has spent a day at the spa?

Would Lucy want FaceTime?



Almost Constantly, or Sometimes?

According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey,  twenty-one percent  of Americans say they go online “almost constantly.”

I don’t know about you, but if that were true I wouldn’t admit it.

We all know about the drawbacks of the internet.  We have all read books like The Circle (well, I didn’t finish it) and The Shallows:  What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Politicians and plutocrats love our internet diversions.  One, the internet keeps us indoors so we won’t panic about the environment (we’re not polar bears!), and, two,  (some) people learn to respect the ill-informed online chat of idiots.

The internet is free. It has destroyed newspapers, but it is absolutely fr-e-e-eee!  Our blogs are free, Netflix and Hulu are free (during week-long trials), Facebook is free, fake news is free, Goodreads is free,  The New York Times is free for 10 articles a month, and the Literary Hub is  free.  Amazon has the best free book website anywhere, complete with book descriptions, short Kirkus reviews, and consumer reviews.  (If you buy the books, as I do, it’s not quite free, though.  Still, it is the best place to shop online.)

We bloggers curate our blogs endlessly.  We are not paid.  How many people are we actually writing for?  Well, obviously I enjoy blogging.  And yet I doubt that my readers will care if I spend two hours or ten (which I’ve never done!) on  a post. Droves of Lawrence Durrell fans visited my blog when I posted on The Alexandria Quartet, and I admit it was an excellent post.  But when I wrote another excellent post about the little-known Argentine writer Angelica Gorodischer’s 1983 classic, Kalpa Imperial, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin and published by Small Beer Press, hardly anyone noticed.  But it’s there for my book-journaling experience, and I admit that’s why it’s important to me.

For paying book pages the internet is a harder world. The New York Times is one of my favorite sources of reviews. Recently I bought a copy of Catherine Lacey’s stunning novel The Answers on the basis of Dwight Garner’s review.  After I read Sarah Perry’s  The Essex Serpent, I read and admired Jennifer Senior;s splendid review.

The Guardian now asks for money.  No subscription necessary yet, but at the bottom of each article it announces, “Unlike many other, we haven’t put up a paywall–we want to keep our journalism as open as possible.  Support us with a one-off contribution.”

Oh, dear, I’m not English, but I appreciate  the  book page. I do plan to subscribe to The New York Times but how about The Guardian?  I read a review of  The Essex Serpent at The Guardian before it was published in the U.S. (In fact, I bought the book in England.)  And right now I m reading an American novel, Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, published by McSweeney’s.  Bizarrely, I read an interview with Cottrell at The Guardian.

At The Millions, in the  essay “Why Literary Journals Don’t Pay,” M.R. Branwen writes ,

In the age of the Internet, people are loath to pay for content — in print or online. The decline of the print publishing industry and the constant near-collapse of the news industry has seen publishers of all stripes frantic to monetize a readership that continues to dodge online advertising and refuses to pay for any form of subscription.

Meanwhile, print periodicals — including, and perhaps especially, literary journals — are extremely costly to produce and continue to lose subscribers as readers increasingly move online. Which is not to say that literary journals have ever been financially viable. Even the illustrious Harvard Review, my literary alma mater, would disappear were it not for generous donors. This is true of all but maybe two or three journals.

It seems to apply to publishing I’m general.

The Unpaid Booksellers of Cyberspace


The publishing world, except for journalism, is closed to most aspiring writers and editors. Bbibliophiles who long to wield a blue pencil on manuscripts of masterpieces at New York publishers have a slim chance of getting a job, unless they went to Ivy League schools or Seven Sisters colleges. Even slimmer are their chances of publishing that novel in a drawer. I hear it is slightly easier to break into genre fiction: for instance, SF embraces outsiders, much in the way journalism does.

And yet there is so much talent out there. That’s why the internet is a blessing. Creative people wear fingerless gloves in attics and write novels or poetry, but now they also have blogs and Facebook pages.

I love the concept of blogging, though I will be the first to admit we bloggers are control freaks.  We write what we like, and damn the torpedoes full speed ahead! Nobody can tell us what to say.  We’re garage bands.  Trolls try to interfere:  are they secret CIA agents????   Another way of looking at blogging is, “Power to the people, smash the state,” as we used to chant at protests, and though I don’t know quite what I meant , I do believe people should have a voice.  Audiences at blogs tend to be small, but people do find their way to read them. I don’t quite have the technical part of cyberpublishing down:   As  I have learned from deleting a post at my subversive book journal, it has already gone out to a few hundred subscribers, even if it no longer appears at the site, so my cyberspace publishing is scatty, with bits here and there in cyberspace, appearing and disappearing, like Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

Anyway, we are the unpaid booksellers of cyberspace.   So who minds a few glitches?

And I have  some very good news about a blogger who has bridged the gap between bloggers, booksellers, and publishers in cyberspace:  Scott, the author of the Furrowed Middlebrow blog, has ventured into publishing.  He now has his own imprint at Dean Street Publishing, and he has reissued some remarkable interwar fiction, mostly by women.

harp-in-lowndes-square-ferguson-515nrd9tpyl-_sx322_bo1204203200_I am a great fan of Rachel Ferguson, so I was very interested to read a TLS review of  three of her novels reissued by Furrowed Middlebrow.  I have almost finished Ferguson’s A Harp in Lowndes Square (1936), and it is not only the wittiest book I’ve read the year, but one of the best books I’ve ever read. (I know I said the same about Barbara Comyns’ Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, and it is true of both in different ways.)   You may know Ferguson as the author of The Brontes Went to Woolworths (Bloomsbury Reader) and Alas, Poor Lady (Persephone). Her voice is sharp, witty, mercilessly observant, and whimsically post-modern.

In A Harp in Lowndes Square, the narrator, Vere, is not only witty and brilliant, one of three children in an unconventional single-parent family,  but the twin of James, with whom she shares a psychic bond.  They see and hear ghosts of Henry VIII, their family, and others. Vere breezily tells the often comical story of the adventures of her dysfunctional family , and are very close to their mother and older sister, Lalage. But they are disturbed by their mother’s withdrawal and obvious dread of their grandmother, Lady Vallant, on rare visits to Lowndes Square.  As an adult, Vere investigates the tragic family history.

I’ll post about this stunning book in detail when I have time, but meanwhile here os a charming passage about Vere’s schooldays to show off the charm and style.

We were happy there and never overworked, and my memory of it will always be bound up with lilac, may trees, laburnum, syringa and the plays of Euripides in an eternal warmth and impossible summer. The headmistress, a gentle, uncertificated woman with a flexible nose and a bun, had a passion for school plays, and selected the Greek drama as being the most respectable, whereby we spent a large portion of nearly every term declaiming about curious and bloody vengeances, morbid elopements with a wordy fellow called Death, and singularly uncivil passages between sons and aged fathers.

By the way, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read Ferguson’s books for free.  (Well, it’s $10 a month or something, but you can read as many as you like with the Unlimited label during that month.)  I will definitely buy a hard copy of A Harp in Lowndes Square., because I love it,  but an e-book also has its virtues.

We have colds at our house, and I wish you a Happy Weekend.  No, I do not think you can catch my cold by reading my blog!  That’s a troll’s wish!

The Art of the Comment, or What Would Dorothy Parker Say?

Dorothy Parker

What would Dorothy Parker say?

“Luv ur blog!” someone once wrote at Mirabile Dictu.   I was grateful, but the schoolmarm in me demands full sentences.

There is an art of writing comments. Do I have it? No. I am neither a master of the brevity of wit, nor of the repartee practiced by Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.   If Dorothy Parker were alive, I doubt she would have blogged. But she might have chortled and left witticisms and wisecracks in comments.  Blogs would become famous for her scintillating wit.

We’re not Dorothy Parker, but it is good manners to comment occasionally.   After reading a smart post by a book blogger toiling in anonymity on the Great Plains, or a Guardian book club essay by Sam Jordison on Caroline Alexander’s elegant new translation of  Homer’s Iliad, I  should leave a hearty, appreciative comment. That blogger in Deadwood, South Dakota, really could use some praise, and Jordison is taking risks with the Iliad.

The trouble is, I can’t think of a thing to say. I can think of two things, but not one. And if I write two things, it will take too long.  When I finally do scrawl a hasty comment, it looks fulsome.  They will think I’m a  blogger in search of a pingback.

Which brings me to the point: are commenters sincere? Or are we just looking for a pingback?  (Sorry, I love that word “pingback.”)

The Roman poet Catullus had his own thoughts on comments.  He  wrote about it in Carmen 70, only I must admit he was writing about love and  I am substituting the word “commenter” for “woman” and “blogger” for “ardent lover”:

but what a commenter (woman)  says to a blogger (ardent lover)
should be written in wind and running water.

See, Catullus knew!

One of the reasons I turned off my comments three months ago was my inability to write comments.  I am cautiously thinking of turning them back on and seeing how it goes.

This means I will have to write some comments. If only I had a template!  But here are some brief notes to myself on how to write a comment if one has little to say.

Do’s and Don’t for Comments, or What Would Dorothy Parker Say? 

1. Do be brief.  It’s a comment, not a master’s thesis.  One  complete sentence is sufficient. As Dorothy Parker said, “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”

2. Don’t hit the “like” button.  It is a temptation to “like,” but complete sentences are a mark of civilization.  As Dorothy Parker says.  “I hate writing, I love having written.”

3. Do compliment bloggers on their work.   There is an interdict in the midwest against flattery or bragging–the reticence of culture reflects the flatness of the landscape.   Don’t agonize:  you’re not obsequious of you leave a nice comment once a year.   As Dorothy Parker said, “And there was that poor sucker Flaubert rolling around on his floor for three days looking for the right word.”

4. Don’t attack the blogger.  Think twice before you voice your dissent.  Is it worth it?  If you go ahead with it, for God’s sake, say something positive about another point in the blog first.  Rude or venomous comments will be deleted.  As Dorothy Parker said, “Friends come and go but I wouldn’t have thought you’d be one of them.

Under the Radar: Do You Prefer Reality or Reality-Based Journals?

The New Orleans French Quarter is more dramatic than historic downtown Winona, Minnesota

The New Orleans French Quarter is more dramatic than historic downtown Winona, Minnesota

My cousin has an idea for my blog.  She thinks it should be more dramatic.  She says  I should  incorporate scenes of what she calls ” bawling, bellyaching, and bellowing” into my  autobiographical comedy.

“You turned off the ‘like’ button,”  she says.  “You’re writing for nobody.”

I turned the off the ‘like’ button off because I think it’s silly.  I rarely cry or scream.  “I am writing for nobody.  It’s a book journal with reality-based diary entries.”

“People want gardens and cute pictures.  And more personal information.”

“I have no personal information.”

Since I refuse to  photoshop pictures of my bedraggled geraniums, or of my cousin standing behind me making rabbit ears, she suggests I eschew reality altogether.   “You should write massively untrue stuff about yourself and the books you read.”

Well, strictly speaking, that might spice things up. Instead of writing about going to Winona, Minnesota, where I actually went, I could pretend to go to New Orleans, where I have never been.  I could trawl information about New Orleans from Anne Rice’s Lestat books and  Shirley Ann Grau’s The House on Coliseum Street.   Vampires and Gothic Southern women:  it could work!

But if I wrote my blog thinking of only imaginary readers and statistics, and I had to invent New Orleans instead of chronicle Winona, I would be bored and resentful.  . I record just enough personal information that I can look back a year from now and know what I was doing.

My cousin isn’t so worried about her personal information.  As a librarian, she knows it’s all out there anyway. She bets  she can write a blog driven by  personal information and rehab anecdotes that will be twice as popular as my most popular post (about Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet.)

I don’t doubt it.

She will write about what it’s like to be a professional woman who does  not have it all .

She shrieks, “I don’t have any of it!  I don’t have friends, I don’t have money, I don’t have a boyfriend…   And I’ll recommend books I haven’t read!”

“You do that anyway.”

“And I’ll write about rehab.”

“You do that anyway.”

Though she is a librarian, she seldom reads books: she prefers to read about them at Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal.  But many of her colleagues do far worse work than she: they have catalogued Doris Lessing’s last novel, Alfred and Emily, as biography, and declared Caroline Blackwood’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Great Granny Webster, a children’s book.

One must be true to one’s own tone.  My bookish readers don’t expect too much.  A book, a bike ride, a short trip:  that’s all we’ve got!

Mirabile Considers the Reading Life, Balzac’s Ursule Mirouet, Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis, & Nook Discrimination at “Web Proof!”

Woman Reading by Gyula Bencz

“Woman Reading” by Gyula Bencz

I have a very odd reading life.

I usually have six books on the go. This eclectic style of reading seems to go with blogging.

I call it  “reading like a bookseller.” The best booksellers have the “multiple reading” habit so they can chat to customers about the latest books.

My most cherished ambition is to own a bookstore and sit around and chat like the charming Linda in  Nancy Mitford’s  The Pursuit of Love.  When she takes over the Communist bookstore every weekend so the Comrade who runs it can get drunk,

An extraordinary transformation would then occur.  The books and tracts which mouldered there month after month, getting damper and dustier until at last they had to be thrown away, were hurried into the background, and their place taken by Linda’s own few but well-loved favorites.  Thus for Whither British Airways? was substituted Round the World in Eighty Days, Karl Marx, the Formative Years was replaced by The Making of a Marchioness, and The Giant of the Kremlin by Diary of a Nobody, while A Challenge to Coal -Owners made way for King Solomon’s Mines.

I can imagine a similar transformation if, say, Leonard Riggio became my best friend and I worked at Barnes and Noble.  My charming, humorous, eclectic favorites would sit on a shelf labeled “Charming, Humorous, Eclectic favorites”:  Nancy Mitford’s Don’t Tell Alfred, H. G. Wells’ Kipps, Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, Julie Hecht’s Do the Window Open?, Nora Johnson’s Coast to Coast:  A Family Memoir, and Margaret Drabble’s The Garrick Year.

A former student was the most personable bookseller at Borders and was also a “multiple reader.”  The Borders culture, he explained, was based on staff interactions with the customers:  he recommended George R. R. Martin’s novels, though I never got into them, and quoted the opening sentence of The Shadow of the Wind to persuade customers they ought to read it.  (“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”). When I bought the new translation of Kristin Lavransdatter, he said he’d always intended to read it.  (I told him he might prefer The Master of Hestviken.)

My fellow bloggers sometimes complain about the strain of multiple reads (i.e., reading like a bookseller). I ask myself, Where is the pressure coming from? Why are we reading so many books?  Are we reading to blog?  Are we blogging to read?  Are we reading for our readers?

It occurs to me we are readers of the 21st century:  we have grown used to interruptions and juggling many tasks at a time. And so we organize our multiple readings in our online writings.  Mirabile Dictu is the equivalent of the journal I used to keep.   I write a few bookish posts every week, but I positively discourage readers from expecting me to “review” books every day.

Ursule Mirouet by BalzacDespite the fact that I am plugged into the internet, despite the fact that my Nook now interrupts me when I have a new email, despite the fact that I have read hundreds of book reviews this year, I go through long periods when I ignore modern life and contemporary books altogether.  I have read many books by Balzac this year, though I have blogged about only a few of them.  Ursule Mirouet is the oddest of his novels I’ve read to date, and definitely the worst.  It begins, as is typical with Balzac’s novels, with a long, rambling exposition of the town, Nemours, and the many branches of an anxious family who worry that the wealthy agnostic Dr. Minoret will leave all his money to his goddaughter Ursule.  At the beginning of the novel, when the non-believer Minoret accompanies Ursule to Mass, the incident triggers malicious gossip about her power over his money.   But  we learn that Minoret converted to Catholicism after a friend challenges him to open his mind to mesmerism: a medium in a trance was able to describe exactly what Ursule was doing back in the village, and when he checked with her, every detail of was correct.

Balzac was a believer in spiritualism and mesmerism, and this very odd novel combines the typical inheritance and thwarted love themes with elements of supernatural communications and interventions.  Donald Adamson says in the introduction to the 1976 Penguin:

To those who poke fun at Balzac’s belief in animal magnetism it should equally be stressed that Mesmer’s theories produced a sensation toward the end of the eighteenth century and commanded the support of many intelligent men.  Balzac merely echoes the opinion of his many contemporaries when claiming in Ursule Mirouet that Mesmer’s findings would revolutionize therapeutic medicine and that ‘rationalist’ methods of healing were ill-founded.

Ursule is fascinating as an example of Balzac’s belief in the supernatural, but it is not a very good novel.

This summer I reread Cicero’s beautifully-written philosophical treatise on the immortality of souls, Somnium Scipionis (Scipio’s Dream) .  Honestly, despite the rhetorical beauty of the language and the utter simplicity of the doctrine, it is trite:  the New Age ’70s bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull meets Plato’s Republic.

But even if you read it in English–I read it in Latin, but have copied a few English paragraph from the Fordham University site below–a little of the power of Cicero’s graceful, deftly balanced prose comes through.  Scipio Aemilianus, military tribune of the fourth legion, spends an evening with King Masinissa, an old family friend, in Africa, who reminisces about his grandfather, Scipio Africanus, hero of the Second Punic War.  This dialogue inspires a dream of a conversation with Scipio Africanus.

 And during all this time the old man spoke of nothing but Africanus, all whose actions, and even remarkable sayings, he remembered distinctly. At last, when we retired to bed, I fell in a more profound sleep than usual, both because I was fatigued with my journey, and because I had sat up the greatest part of the night.

Here I had the following dream, occasioned, as I verily believe, by our preceding conversation—for it frequently happens that the thoughts and discourses which have employed us in the daytime, produce in our sleep an effect somewhat similar to that which Ennius writes happened to him about Homer, of whom, in his waking hours, he used frequently to think and speak.

Simple and down-to-earth, but you really need the Latin.

I promise to catch up with “bookish writing” soon.  Summer is winding down.

And now for my experience with contemporary books.

There is a certain  website where you can sign up and request digital advance copies of new books from publishers.  I will refer to this site as “Web Proofs!”(its real name is something similar, and many of you bloggers probably know it).

This summer the Web Proofs! publicist sent me a catalogue.  Before I knew it, I had requested seven books to review at Mirabile Dictu, figuring I would be okayed for one.  I was astonished when I was okayed for all except for the one I wanted, Jonathan Lethem’s forthcoming novel.

But do you think it was easy to download these free books on my Nook?  No, it was impossible!

If you have a Kindle, you can download the books directly from Web Proofs!  If you don’t you have to download Adobe Digital Editions.  Fine.  Then you have to plug in your Nook and download from Adobe Digital Editions.

Transatlantic colum mccannIt didn’t work.  Both my husband and I tried repeatedly.  A message appeared saying that I was not approved to copy the contents.

I tried to read Colum McCann’s beauitfully-written novel  Transatlantic on Adobe Digital editions on my computer, but it gave me a headache.

I went out and bought the book.

All the books I was approved for expired on their expiration dates.  Sorry, publicists, I’ve failed you again!

The Amateur

pompeifresco-278x208 roman writerI dropped out of my writers’ group after I stopped writing my novel.  As with so many of my writing projects, I spent a month polishing the first chapter, then wrote the next nine chapters in nine days.  It’s far more fun to write, write, write than to polish.

But I love writers’ groups. I miss the excitement of the rustle of paper as the copies of manuscripts are breathlessly distributed. I miss the diverse population of the shaggy ex-freaks, the chic professionals, the retired women with their graceful novels-in-a-drawer, and the talented slackers with their drug memoirs.

Stories are not attacked in writer’s groups.  The feedback is kind.

It isn’t school.

Nobody’s going to tear your story apart.

An editor is not going to reject you.

I still remember my friend, Cassandra, rolling back and forth over a rejection letter from a poetry editor in her wheelchair.

“My poetry is goddamned better than theirs!”

And, yes, it really was.

I am a dilettante.  My husband says, “Get offline and write that book that will support our retirement.”  (But haven’t all the vampire books been written?)

Anyway, I enjoy blogging.  I write whatever I want, personal stuff, book notes, and mini-essays.

But “blog” is a disparaging word, and bloggers should find another word for their writings.

In 2012, Sir Peter Stothard, editor of TLS, Dwight Garner, a critic for The New York Times, and Jacob Silverman, a freelance writer for Slate, attacked amateur online writers, claiming that the blog and social media have weakened traditional criticism and publishing.   Even the novelist Howard Jacobson mocked blogging in his novel, Zoo Time:  “The blog is yesterday,” the hero wants to tell his gloomy publisher, who believes the blog “is the end of everything.” He says the problem lies with “myBlank and shitFace and whatever else was persuading the unRead to believe everybody had a right to his opinion.”

What they don’t understand is that blogging is very much about voice.

The blogger, D. G. Myers, an intelligent writer whose conservative views are usually very different from my own, articulately championed blogging recently.

Blogging is not merely an amateur’s medium. It is a dissent from the professionalization of literature, where professionalization is represented by English departments and creative writing workshops and print magazines and large publishing houses which are subsidiaries of even larger conglomerates. What Jacques Barzun calls the professional’s fallacy (namely, the superstition that understanding is identical with professional practice) has transformed the institutions of literacy into closed shops. If you’re not employed in the literature racket, you might as well, in literary terms, not exist.

Although there is much mockery of the blogger who announces, “Peter Buck is a god!” there are many gifted amateurs who write thoughtful, interesting essays and reviews.  Are novelists and nonfiction writers professional?  Not until they’ve published.  And there are not enough traditional publishers anymore to support talented amateurs.

There are many different style of blogging.  There are the intellectual bloggers, like Ellen Moody and D. G. Myers, who write scholarly notes and reviews.  Ellen often writes about women’s books, Myers about Jewish literature.

Blogger Pioneer Woman now has a cooking show on the Food Network.

Blogger Pioneer Woman now has a cooking show on the Food Network.

Then there are the domestic bloggers: Pioneer Woman intersperses her stories of an impossibly interesting ranch family with recipes, and is so popular she has published cookbooks; Dovegreyreader, though billed as a book blogger, is also domestic, pulling us into her world with anecdotes about her family and pets.

Some women bloggers on my “sidebar” are not what I’d call domestic writers: they intersperse personal writing with musings on books, but they do not sentimentalize family life (something I have been guilty of occasionally).  Among these areBelle, Book, and Candle and Thinking  in Fragments.

Most of the male bloggers on my blogroll are remarkably impersonal.  I know only the sketchiest details about the personal lives of Asylum, Kevin in Canada, and Tony’s Book World.

Two exceptions to this rule of the Impersonal Male are A Common Reader and Stuck in a Book.  A Common Reader writes good book reviews, but he has occasionally mentioned his music and included a video of his performance of one of his songs (excellent), which made me think very well of him.  Stuck in a Book focuses on middlebrow women’s books, but he also writes comically about bookstores, baking, and outings with his twin, who is apparently his opposite in matters of reading tastes.

One does not need to don the “professional” journalist’s or scholar’s voice to write a book blog.  And even if the blogs read like rough drafts, it is easy to see the talent, intelligence, or humor between the lines.

I don’t know how long blogs will last as a genre.  It seems to me that people are turning to shorter and shorter forms, like the tweet.  Blogs are part of what I call the “long-attention-span indoor culture.”  As our climate changes and society fragments (looting after Hurricane Sandy:  you know the kind of thing), huge numbers of people will stay indoors, addicted to the internet.  The more they can get us to blog and tweet and stay indoors, the less trouble they’ll have.

And, yes, I’d better go write that vampire novel, because I’ve got Climate Change blues.