May 26th, 2008

Here in the Blogosphere

I am a big fan of blogs, and not for the reasons that people generally use to make a pro-blog argument: they are non-corporate and uncensored, withno word-counts and no agendas, no hierarchy or no cost/training/credential impediments. All those are of course good things (except when they are bad things–sometimes we all long for a length limit or a vocabulary requirement). But those things are not what won me over.

I like blogs because they are personal, and I am nosy. I love the chatty digressive voice, the ownership of the “I” in opinion-giving (not “This book *is* awesome!” but “*I* love this book!”) I also like to be able to follow a narrative–if I read a whole bunch of reviews or articles on a blog, I am hoping to also get a sense of the blogger’s personality and life, to follow a trajectory in reading or writing or both.

That’s what I’m into, but there are some very good blogs that don’t have these things. There are also blogs that have political discourse and/or recipes for mojitos, things that hold no allure to me, so I avoid those, too. Yet, politics and mojitos and unbiased impersonal perspectives are probably also good things, as are the people who write about or with them.

There are also many many many bad blogs out there. Blogs with no punctuation, blogs with no respect for women, blogs that make no effort to be interesting.

What’s my point?

You dig what you dig. But it is strange to me that some people don’t like blogs.

I think it is very strange to dismiss a *form* of expression, because most forms are wildly various, able to express so much or nothing at all. Saying you’d never read a blog seems to me much the same as saying you would never eat anything that came out of certain bowl (unless the bowl is made out of poison). If it’s a nice enough bowl and people are hungry, most things will go in it, eventually.

I believe novels were once considered a scandalous waste of time, too. I don’t think anyone would argue that now, although really, unless you choose carefully, you certainly could waste a lot of time reading a so-called “legitamate”, non-internet-based book.

If one uses equal discretion in choosing blogs, what worlds we can see! And I don’t know what you dig, per se, but might I suggest

Dennis Cass Wants You to Be More Awesome This is a blog about how to survive as a person who makes culture for a “living” and yet still likes to eat food and have self-esteem. It is written by a journalist who wrote a book on the brain and then started a blog to promote it. He quickly realized that it’s *hard* to promote yourself, and made a really amusing/horrifying video to prove it. And then he made the other, non-promotional blog, but all of these bits of the puzzle are really interesting and very very funny. And very meta.

Another author who extends her talent beautifully into the blogosphere is Kate Sutherland at Kate’s Book Blog. This is an author of short stories who writes about them, as a craft (reflections and excerpts on how authors do what they do) and an art (various reading and reviewing groups that she runs). I have to admit that while I like Cass’s blog, I’ll probably never read his book (because I’m not into that sort of thing), but Sutherland’s territory of short fiction is my first love, and I’ll be reading (and, I hear, adoring) her second collection very soon.

Although I mentioned above that I read these blogs for the “personal” touch, there isn’t all that much of actual personal *lives* in my favourite blogs. It’s rather the *personality* behind them, people I have gotten to know as intelligent, and thoughtful about the things *I* care about. It takes a while to find that out.

Maybe when we go searching for criticism, we are seeking opinions other than our own, and the reason hierarchized publications appeal is because we are told which ones to trust and how much (ok, that’s one of the appeals *for me*). With blogs, you can get access to a world of opinions, but you still have to do the work of winnowing out both the good and the relevant from all the other stuff. To me that’s worth the work.

All the boys who called their mothers on that deadline

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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