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April 20, 2005

Doing My Bit to Make Literary Fiction the New Black

by Ron Hogan

Joy Press (Village Voice) considers the intersection of bookblogging and marketing:

"Literati are increasingly turning to the blogs for discussion, gossip, analysis, and a sense of community. Inevitably, publishers have noticed the power of these informal networks to generate word-of-mouth buzz--the holy grail of marketing--and are looking for ways to harness it."

I'm quoted in the story, and I guess I have to learn to watch out for run-on sentences as I do more interviews in the months ahead, but other than that I'm really glad about how I come across, and I think the article gets the issue pretty right. I know a number of other bloggers are frustrated with the description of litblogs "as a kind of parasite, feeding off the mainstream media," but frankly I don't see the characterization as entirely untrue, merely incomplete, especially when held up for out-of-context criticism.* We all use what we're reading in the newspapers and the magazines to fuel our commentary; that said, the most entertaining of us have built upon that foundation to offer original perspectives on the contemporary literary scene. If we're parasites, I'd like to think of us as oxpeckers, keeping the giant behemoths healthy even as we draw some sustenance from them.

* Because, to her credit, Press doesn't make that her only interpretation of the bookblog phenomenon, the way certain other commentators who never bothered to flesh out their positions by soliciting anybody else's perspective did.
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