Hello, I’m Dylan Kinnett. For years, I’ve been an avid reader of literary blogs. They’re known in some circles as “litblogs.” You could say that I am a collector of litblogs. Starting with bookmarks in my browser, then moving on through a series of RSS feed readers, I’ve collected a list of hundreds, perhaps even a thousand different litblogs: popular blogs, obscure ones, blogs that update daily, or almost never. I skim, browse, and read through them whenever I get the chance.
Every other week, here on realpants.com, I’ll post some highlights from the world of literary blogs.
It might help to begin with a pair of definitions. First, what’s a “blog” these days, anyway? Second, what do I mean by “highlight?”
Years ago, it might have been possible to say that there were two kinds of websites. One kind was the static kind typically made by organizations, and the other kind, blogs, were regularly updated by regular folks. Times have changed, lines have blurred and now there are things like Podcasts; video sharing sites; social media; sites for sharing longform, shortform, newform writing; and so many things coming and going online all the time and all of it has the potential to be literary. Let’s, for the sake of this weekly roundup, group all of this amazing material under a single heading. Let’s consider it all as part of one big literary conversation, and it is a big one, which is why I think an overview will be useful.
My sense of a “highlight” is partly subjective: if I think you’ll find it interesting, I’ll share it; but more objectively if a topic is addressed on two or more of the blogs, and I think you’ll find it interesting, I’ll include that too.
Let me know what you think of all this, in the comments.
Now, the roundup…
Writers and Editors on their Literary Resolutions
Benjamin Samuel at electric literature asked 19 writers’ resolutions for the new year. Naturally, many writers resolved to have new relationships with books. Some would write books by hand. Others would read more books, or more books in translation. Others resolved not to buy new books until reading the ones they already have.
Speaking of resolutions, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has resolved this week to start a new book club. The goal, as he says, “is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. […] first book of the year will be The End of Power by Moisés Naím.” Is this an exciting new chapter for the literary Internet or is Zuckerberg just using his face to sell books? Eric Johnson, blogging at re/code asks, “will Naím’s book get a ‘Zuckerberg bump’ and rise in the various sales charts?”
With the recent release of the new Hobbit movie, we’ve reached the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s cinematic saga based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. But have we had enough of Tolkein? Author Michael Moorcock has had enough of Tolkein, as explained by a recent New Yorker article:
Not even Tolkien’s vast philological scholarship, his deep knowledge of mythology, and his world-building skills could impress what Moorcock and company saw as a troublesome infantilism inherent in Tolkien’s work. In a 1971 essay in New Worlds, the writer M. John Harrison acknowledges Tolkien’s position as the first and last word in fantastic fiction, but begs readers to look more closely, where they will see not the “beautiful chaos of reality,” but “stability and comfort and safe catharsis.” In 1978, Moorcock did a more thorough takedown in an essay called “Epic Pooh,” in which he compares Tolkien and his hobbits to A. A. Milne and his bear.
Poetry and the telephone have had an interesting long-distance relationship.
In 1969, thanks to dial-a-poem, you could call a telephone number and hear a recorded poem on the other end of the line. Now, poets can return the call, with Voicemail Poems. The “about” page says, “it’s simple. anyone can call 1-910-703-POEM from anywhere and be heard (the country code is +1 for international calls – email us if you have a problem). we post one new audio poem each day mon-thurs.” There’s been a break in the posts, but they’re scheduled to start back up again today.
That does it for this first installment of the roundup. I look forward to any comments about these highlights, the literary Internet in general or, as an icebreaker, what’s your favorite literary website and what do you like about it?