I was watching a rerun of Seinfeld last night, and saw one of my mother’s books. It was in a little stack of books George had loaned to a woman and wanted Jerry to get back for him yadda yadda. I vaguely remember that my mother once got paid for a book’s appearance in something, but I had thought it was a movie, so this was a surprise.
I was as “Hey, look!” as if it had been my mother herself making this cameo.
I’m currently reading a book that used to be a blog. I have reached the point, after having read about a dozen such books, of not getting books if I know in advance that they used to be blogs. Since I get most of my books in the mail, I frequently don’t know this ahead of time, which I suppose is why I have now read so many books that used to be blogs.
The first thing I’ve noticed in blog books is the lack of plot. There are events, but they don’t have that narrative form you like to see in a piece of fiction. For example, last year we got tangentially involved in a crime at my house, and my husband was seriously thinking about going into hiding to avoid being killed by gangsters and I was seriously afraid that we, innocent though we were, were going to end up in prison.
In a work of fiction, this would be something like Some Like It Hot. A great premise, and you can go in a lot of directions, and it could make a great story.
In real life, it dragged on for months and finally just sort of fizzled out when I quit getting letters from the government and my husband quit waiting for someone to come and kill him. This is what blog books are like. Day by day, the events could be interesting, especially since you get to know the person over time and feel fond of them and want to know what’s going on with them. But real life doesn’t make for good plot.
There is also a real lack of character development. In fiction, a whiny self-indulgent character will tend to have experiences and improve. Or possibly get killed. In blog books, the whiny self-indulgent characters have experiences — they get a job or have a baby or lose weight or read the entire encyclopedia — but they are still whiny and self-indulgent.
Or they might be nice and sympathetic from beginning to end, a thing you like in real life, but not that great in fiction. I don’t mean to suggest that even the majority of the characters in these books have been whiny and self-indulgent. Especially the guy with the encyclopedia. He seems very nice. It was just a random example, the point being that blog book characters don’t either improve or have tragic ends.
I assume this is because in fiction, the writer plans ahead for the character to change or improve or learn or develop or die, but in a blog, you have a writer who is already as good as he or she can imagine being, aside from externals. So the story is just about externals, and the above-mentioned lack of plot makes those externals disappointing.
Life doesn’t make good fiction.
So I am reading this book, and liking the character in spite of her self-destructive behavior, and preparing for the disappointment when we get to the end and nothing much will have happened. In a novel, the author would have put the self-destructive behavior in on purpose, and have a plan for the character either to overcome it or to end up tragically, but this is a book from a blog.
The blog in question has a link to this collection of 1972 recipe cards, in the style of The Gallery of Regrettable Foods, to which I have linked you before. In fact, I’ve posted enough pictures like these (though without the clever captions) that you will recognize that I find this era of cookbook photos fascinating. Though you shouldn’t look at them before meals, of course.
When I read these blog books, I sometimes think that, while the book itself is disappointing, I could enjoy the blog. However, as soon as people make their blogs into books, they quit writing anything interesting at their blogs. This makes sense, I suppose.Why give it away when someone will pay you for it? The blog is no longer their diary, but rather has become a marketing device. So you end up with a book that is not very good as a book and a blog that is not very good as a blog.
My husband and my son have both made pointed remarks about the lack of housekeeping around here. My husband and I even had a bit of a quarrel about it, with him pointing out that I am working more hours than I am paid for, and no one appreciates my doing that, while I neglect my responsibilites to him and the household. It wasn’t a quarrel yet when he said that, actually. It became a quarrel when Isuggested that, if people would just leave me alone so I could get my work done, I wouldn’t have to work so many hours.
However, he is right. It isn’t even true that I don’t get my work done when people interrupt me. I still get the work done, I just get cross about it. So I am not going to work today (well, just a little bit) except at housework.
I did make them a coffee cake, which you see here apparently floating around in the spirit world. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen in the day of digital photographs.
And we are all coughing and sneezing here again. I don’t know whether we passed that virus around and around again, or if we have allergies or what, but there is a dispiriting feeling to having just gotten better and then be feeling miserable again.
So I do think that sitting in front of the fire reading and knitting will be part of the day. I finished Erin’s fronts and must now figure out how to proceed next.