Monday, March 31, 2008

The Village Green Preservation Society



There was a discussion on the radio this morning about literay critics versus bloggers. The blogger was asked what qualified him to pontificate on books and I though he let the side down a bit by telling us of his record in reviewing in the mainstream media. I think he could just have said that I buy books, I read books and I have an opinion on books, to which I am bloody entitled! You can hear the debate if you go to the Today page and click "listen again", it took place at 8.20. All aspects of the mainstream media seem to have taken against humble bloggers and seem to be offended that scruffy, inarticulate, poorly educated urchins should not only have an opinion but be willing to voice it.

I suspect I am the kind of shrill, opinionated blogger of which they would disapprove. I don't write thoughtful, considered, academic reviews of the books I read, I just say whether or not I liked it, and, where possible, will post links to more intelligent reviews and excerpts. I don't see anything wrong with that, particularly as much of the stuff I link to will be outside of the mainstream, and I will have come across most of it, not from high brow journals and broadsheets, but by seeing the work recommended on other blogs.

There are loads of books I would not even be aware of had it not been for bloggers. The mainstream, print press is made up of an Oxbridge elite which constantly reviews each others work and which concentrates on established, upper middle class authors. They operate in a zone of extreme comfort. So do Bloggers, I suppose, but our efforts are no less worthwhile than those of the establishment; in fact, they are more worthwhile.

Ken Bruen will have made an extra few bob this last year because Bob Piper recommended him on his blog, then I and others did, then still more did, and on it will go and a similar process has happened with probably a dozen other authors of whom you will not read in the mainstream press; and that's just the miniscule bit of the blogosphere (cack word, sorry!)in which I operate. A similar process will be replicated millions of times over.

Bloggers are like the Ranters of the 17 century. The internet, the opening up of the blogosphere (sorry again) is like the invention of the printing press. Those outside the mainstream, those outside a self perpetuating elite, those outside of the public school, Oxbridge system, have been given a voice, and the bloody elite are squealing like stuck pigs; it is hilarious.

Charlie Brooker has been missing from The Guardian for the last few Saturdays, but he continues to write on Mondays and today he has laid into The Apprentice, among others. I had my first taste of The Apprentice last week, watching it, open mouthed, for about 15 minutes. Outside of the world of parody, I hadn't realised that such people actually exist.
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