Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blogs as Literature: TK

Yup, to come...unlike my anticipation for the original plug on NPR's series on blogs. Their Digital Cultural series teeing off from the tenth anniversary of blogs promised a report on blogs as good writing by a writer who spent a year evaluating thousands for the best reading.

Instead, it was Christmas cotton fluff and the work of locating and evaluating blog posts as literature falls to us. I'll do my part.

Yesterday's NPR episode was LITE. I suspect that the self-described expert, Sarah Boxer, is a friend of the show folk, who shameless let her flog her new book instead of fulfilling their teaser. If you must hear the segment, click here, and then click Listen Now for not much for nearly eight minutes.

In fairness to Ms. Boxer, any of us would be foolish to expect great substance on this. She was a photography and art writer for the New York Times. She produced a pale (in many senses) little cartoon book, In the Floyd Archives: A Psycho-Bestiary.

Her goth promo pix and a sub-frame from the book are here, both reduced for your viewing pleasure.

Cleverness seems to mark her style. Her alleged year of research was for an edited compilation. That too is clever — her getting paid for her recent year of web surfing. Like the NPR teaser, this drive-by 368-pager promises much more than it delivers. Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web is only OK and does not live up to its subtitle.

I agree with her basic idea that there's lots of good writing among the ain't-my-kid-cute and disdain-for-(insert group) blogs. Yet, she only manages to repost some good stuff, what any of us could do with a few dozen clicks starting from such as Technorati or LeftyBlogs. This is truly a noob book.

I knew she was off into the brambles from the start. For example, up front, she excluded writing from political blogs, because "they spoil" by their timeliness. That's a lesser case of disregarding say The Red Badge of Courage or any period fiction.

As insightful as she got was noting that left-leaning blogs tend toward longer narratives, while right-wing ones dealt with gotcha punchlines instead. Yawn.

She just doesn't get it and can't deliver to us what she doesn't have. So, I'm back with my mule at the unplowed furrow-to-be. In the next few weeks, I'll set out some examples of literature, with another call for us to keep it smart and worth reading.

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1 comment:

Ryan said...

For a while, I dabbled with the idea of creating a blog based on an alter-ego character that would be writing essentially first person, very short stories, many from my real life, but highly exaggerated...

It was fun for a day or two, then I realized "Holy Crap, this is hard!"

Blogs as literature, humoristic stories, etc... would be highly entertaining and I think could generate a lot of traffic - but kudos to anyone willing to take on that kind of committment. It's tough to write pure fiction almost every day that's interesting and readable, much harder than writing about politics... since more than half our story ideas come from other sources (an article we read, an event we covered, a person we came across, etc.).