Books

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Blog-to-Book, Hybrid Genre(s)

I think the writing Jodi has been doing lately is outstanding, and just now in a comment I told her I could imagine her as one of those people who gets a book deal from his or her blog. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to post for a while now about the book-deal-from-blog phenomenon; I'm interested in several aspects of it. I want to:

  1. Compile a list of bloggers who have gotten book deals
  2. Think about what kinds of writing these bloggers are doing, what these blogs have in common (for example, the writing on all these blogs is acutely personal)
  3. Keep track of what the generic conventions are: What will the book-from-blog hybrid form look like?* Of course specific books will vary, but for the most part, will they be epistolary memoirs? How will they be arranged? Will they keep reverse chronological order (a blog expectation), or invert to chronological order for continuity (a print memoir expectation)? Or will the blog posts be used as raw material, with the intention that the end product will be a seamless narrative? How will the generic expectations merge to create a hybrid? Will one or the other -- blog or book -- prevail? What will happen to the comments readers leave? Will the blog be taken down after the book is released?

I know these questions aren't new, that plenty of other people are wondering the same thing and have probably already written about it. If you know of such writing and can point me to it, please do so in the comments. Also, here is a list of blogs I know of that are going to be released as books, or already have been. If you know of more, please alert me to them.

  • The Julie/Julia Project, book here
  • Where is Raed? (Salam Pax), book here
  • Baghdad Burning -- looks like the blog is still up. Actually, there's an excerpt of the book in the most recent issue of Ms., and it looks like they've kept the post format; the excerpt consisted of dated entries ending with "Posted by River @ [time]." Must buy that book.
  • The rumor is apocryphal, so I don't want to say for sure, but I heard that Ginmar's blog might become a book. (She's in the U.S. military and was stationed in Iraq for a long time, but is back now. Great writing there.)
  • UPDATE -- found some more: Diary of a London Call Girl
  • Wil Wheaton (his writing speaks for itself, and his weblog was what got his writing noticed, so I'm counting him here, but his celebrity prior to starting the blog certainly helped)
  • Mimi Smartypants, book here

* I want to be clear about my terms here: I don't mean to suggest that "book" is a genre. "Memoir" might be a genre, but I consider "book" a form and a technology, much like "blog."

UPDATE: Should have done the Amazon searching first. Looks like in every case, the weblogs have stayed up after the publication of the book.

Road trips and thoughts on audiobooks

The light blogging here of late can be attributed to the fact that I'm relaxing here at home. A couple of days ago I took off to southern Mississippi to see a friend I hadn't seen in about five years. It was a six-hour drive each way, but the weather was perfect, and I was able to do a good part of the drive on the beautiful Natchez Trace. I pulled over at some of the landmarks and trails including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (pictures under the fold).

I love listening to books on tape on car trips, especially when I'm by myself. This trip I listened to Nella Larsen's Passing on the way there and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye on the way back. I check these out from the library, whose selection is pretty paltry when considered with my criteria. I'm picky when it comes to audiobooks. First of all, I want great literature, not pulpy, formulaic ephemera, absolutely no abridgments, and the books must fit into the drive time. And the narrator has to be good. Lynne Thigpen was breathtaking, the very best, though Robin Miles did a fine job of narrating Passing. I wonder how much narrators of audiobooks get paid?

For my upcoming drive to Atlanta, I have Candide (which I've read, but it's been a while), Toni Morrison's Jazz (another Thigpen recording), and Jeremy Irons' recording of The Alchemist (which I'm not too excited about, but I might give it a try. Like I said, paltry selection).

Any other audiobook lovers?

Weblog-related books I hadn't encountered before, found in WorldCat

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez, a (children's? young adults'?) book about a girl who moves from Berkeley to Philly and uses her blog to communicate with her friends back home.

Publishing a Blog with Blogger. Huh? We really need an entire book to tell us how to do this? The poor trees...

Buzz Marketing With Blogs for Dummies. My inner crank can think of a few other ways to put "Buzz Marketing With Blogs." Ugh. Okay, I didn't find that one in WorldCat.

I heart the BUSTies

BUST is my favorite magazine for many reasons, but they've just given me another one: an interview with Sweet Valley High creator Francine Pascal in the Apr/May 2005 issue. As many of you know, I've been into such books for a long time. The interview isn't that great, but here are the high points:

  1. When asked whether or not she is a feminist, Pascal responds with an emphatic yes.
  2. When asked if she feels she's affected her readers, she says, "I think I have. I think I've hit them when they're at their most idealistic moment and I've given them the classic values I believe in: honor, caring, responsibility, love, truth, courage. All those beautiful things. I hope that they'll aspire to them."
  3. And here's the best one:

  4. Pascal is coming out with a new novel, Sweet Valley Heights, slated for publication in late 2005, which "will revisit all the familiar characters, now in their late 20s and early 30s and living in a gated community, and Francine promises it will be outrageous."

Will I read this book? OH yes. I can't wait.

That Book Meme

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

The Red Tent.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes. Would you like to know who? Okay. Rupert Birkin. In my childhood, I had a crush on Peter Hatcher, the long-suffering older brother of "Fudge" Hatcher in that series of Judy Blume books (Superfudge and -- I think -- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). Yod, the cyborg from He, She, and It.

The last book you bought is:

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama.

The last book you read:

The Turn of the Screw, if that counts as a book...

What are you currently reading?

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

The Cay, Lord of the Flies...nah, kidding. Hmmmm. Just five? Well, without having thought very hard about it: Gravity's Rainbow, Infinite Jest (never read either of those but I figure I'd have plenty of time on a deserted island), The Awakening, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?

Jonathan, because his response will be funny.

Collin, for no particular reason. [UPDATE: I knew there would be a good reason to name Collin here. Actually, there are many reasons, which is why I couldn't pick a particular one. :)]

Cristina, because she has excellent taste.

More Books

Because I'm too busy to write a real post. Well, that and I can't keep my computer on for more than about ten minutes at a time. After that it starts making this awful siren noise (yes, I've ordered a new CPU and heatsink).

Anyone remember these? (More below the fold.)

Inner Monologue, Third Person Omniscient

All these memories of children's books have reminded me of how ingrained narrative was in my consciousness when I was a child. Present in my mind at all times was a narrator, observing me and telling my story at the exact same time I was acting it out, viz: I'd be walking around in the woods, stopping periodically to inspect various plants. As I did so, I'd be thinking: "She walked through the forest, stopping here and there to kneel down and contemplate plants. She saw a mayapple and wondered if fairies used them as umbrellas. She picked wildflowers and plucked the petals, saying, 'He loves me. He loves me not.' She saw a strange plant with purple leaves and suspected it must be an ingredient in a magic potion." On and on and on. Back then, I used to think I was the only one who thought in this manner. Now I wouldn't be surprised if other bibliophiles thought in that same constant narrative, maybe Krista, Cristina, Amanda, or The Little Professor. Anyone else?

Greener Pastures, or: The Dissertation I'd Rather Be Writing

I've been working on my dissertation all day and grading all night. At times like this, I think about other projects that have been on my mind for years and sometimes wish I were doing a different dissertation. From what I gather in conversations with graduate students and professors, it's a fairly common feeling. I don't really want to change topics; I'm still very interested in mine, but I experience moments of staring across the fence wistfully. Specifically: Those who have read this blog a while might know that I'm fascinated with 70s and 80s young adult fiction for girls: the middle-class, white femininity that is pretty shamelessly inculcated, from the images, to the behavior of the characters, to the grossly stereotypical representations of good girl/bad girl. Yet many women my age loved and continue to feel nostalgic for these books. Lots of cover art from a recent used bookstore trip follows under the fold [edited to put one image in the body of the post to get people to look at the others :-)]:

Forever, which was soft porn for sixth-grade slumber parties:

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