"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Navel-Gazing: What is the Literary Blogosphere For?

Having launched this blog less than two months ago and still feeling my way I was interested to see a thread in the Book Depository Editor's Corner about a meeting in London of book trade people to discuss literary blogs that seemed to suggest some weren't of much value. I am sure this is true - some are pretty poor and some of the discussions at, for example, the Guardian books blog are ill-expressed drivel as far as I can see - but it does raise the question of what criteria you use to determine whether a blog is good or bad. Or put more simply, what are literary blogs for? In my case I was attracted in the usual internet way by the fact that it was possible, that it was there. By a few keystrokes, using design templates, one could create a reasonably stylish blog in a few minutes and using it is as easy as falling off a log. But what is it for? That's harder. Two key features of blogging - anonymity and extreme subjectivity - didn't attract me in the least, which probably means that for some people it isn't a real blog at all. Anonymity in particular (apart from those who are writing under censorship or who are whistleblowers) completely baffles me. As a published author I wanted to use it to maintain my profile and inform potential readers about what I was up to but that raises another question: who is the audience? Serious literary readership in the UK is very small as print-runs (I am also a small poetry publisher so I know all about that!) and sales of poetry and new literary fiction demonstrate. These are pitifully small so if you get a few thousand readers of a blog you are doing well (I have had less than 150 hits so far in nearly two months!). It's also quite fun to do which shouldn't be dismissed as a motive but I suppose one does want to stimulate a bit of debate and get some responses (other than those from people trying to sell their T-shirts) and that is proving harder. Some literary blogs are excellent and thought-provoking though some are very poorly written which is unforgivable for literary material and some are a bit manipulative - excluding posts because the comment doesn't fit rather than using that tool to keep out the flaky or obsessive. But on the whole they give a chance for some views to be ventilated and that has to be a good thing. So I shall press on for the time being. Please join in!

1 comment:

Notes From Dixon said...

Hello Friend,

Your blog caught my eye while cruising. "Literary" is too big a word for me. I like books. Read alot. Enjoy the British point of view.

Greatly admire some of your famous past. Read almost all Alexander Kent, Doyle's Sherlock stories, Douglas Reeman, Rudyard Kipling tales, C.S. Forester's Hornblower stories, and, surprise of surprises, Margaret Thatchers political rememberances. Now how's that for an mixed batch of interests.

Navel Gazing seems to be the best possible description of my work on the bolgosphere. For a mental picture you might im agine
"Rumpole" in his chips. That's me.

To the point. Ian McCuen (can't spell either) may or may not be the best current author skribbling, but he is certainly close. "Atonemen"t is a particular favorite of mine.

So at least one person out in the ether agrees.

Keep blogging.