Private Eye reports that Colin Randall, Paris correspondent for the Daily Telegraph until he was sacked in September, has started a blog of his own. In the early part of October, he picked up over 200 comments: the eight surviving foreign correspondents blogging on the Torygraph site amassed 29 in the same period. Between them. It's further evidence, I suppose, that (Comment is Free apart, but he would say that, wouldn't he?), Brit newspapers have yet to achieve a useful synergy with the blogosphere. At the same time, it does raise the question of what blogs are really for. Are eyeballs a measure of virtual virility? Should Randall hop on the EuroStar back to London and wiggle his Profile Views in the claret-enhanced faces of his former employers? Or would that be to miss the point?
Lord Gnome also provides us with a wicked précis of that One Day In History mass blog thing that has had such a resonant effect on the cultural landscape. Or not:
"HISTORY MADE BY GREATEST BLOG IN HISTORY
My Personal Blog
I got up this morning and had breakfast. Then I went to work and talked to some people. Really busy day. Got home in the evening, had supper, watched some telly and went to bed.
Repeat 2 million times and publish on website which no one will ever read again."
While I was picking up my Eye, an expat staple to rank with Marmite and DVDs of Inspector Morse, I noticed a book on the shelf. It was called Covergirl, by Maura Moynihan, and flashed across the cover, in its own little red circle, was the phrase "REALITY FICTION".
Now, we've been here before, with the likes of In Cold Blood, a so-called non-fiction novel. But Capote was taking a news story, and writing it up in a style that we associate more closely with fiction. Moynihan, daughter of a respected American politician and diplomat, and a former Warhol girl (apparently the sort that didn't even get 15 minutes) appears to be offering a thinly-disguised version of her own life - in fact, the raw material for about 90 per cent of first novels. But flagging it up like this strikes me as a little bizarre. Are people more likely to buy or read a book because it's loosely based on the life of someone they've never heard of? Has the deadly duo of postmodernism and Big Brother finally destroyed any consensus as to what reality actually is (and how it's different from fiction)? I look forward to "REALITY FICTION" stickers being plastered over David Copperfield, On The Road, The Bell Jar, Jane Eyre and Decline And Fall. I'm not entirely sure what goes on in the heads of publishers any more, something that's reinforced by the list of suggested changes to my manuscript that I received a few days ago. Oh well, time to negotiate yet another creative compromise. Story of my life. Hey, maybe I should write a novel about it.
Pausing only to note the suggestion that global conflicts can be resolved by a quick bout of scissors-paper-stone, I'm off on another leisurely jaunt, this time a travel story for the Bangkok Post. Will return with edited highlights mid-week.