Wednesday, March 22, 2006

BOOKS: Reasons 3,902,186-188 Why I Love the Internet

I wish I could travel back in time ten years and tell myself that this crazy "world wide web" thingummy being served through my crappy, crashtastic dial-up connection would one day:
  • be occupying more of my free time than television through something called "blogging";
  • spawn so many fantastic "blogs" that some of them would be turned into books, also known as "blooks"; and as a result
  • spawn a literary prize just for blooks.
I may be arriving a little late for the party, but how cool is it that the self-publishing web geniuses at Lulu have recently announced the first annual Blooker Prize? It's not chump change, either. The winner gets $2,000, which isn't too shabby compared to more established prizes like the National Book Award and the Pulitzer, which only give out ten grand each.

The panel of judges includes Cory Doctorow, one of the editors of BoingBoing (point of note: I used to buy BoingBoing regularly in the early '90s, when it was only a print zine. Are you impressed? Because there was no point in my mentioning that if you're not impressed), and Paul Jones, one of the great minds behind, among other things, Project Gutenberg.

Looking at the shortlist of Blooker finalists makes me worry, though. I mean, I've been frittering away my time on the internet for years, so how have I managed to miss so many of these blogs? Has my frittering been for naught? Perhaps I'm not the skilled fritterer I've always believed myself to be. But that's a dark path of thought I shall not follow today.

I took a few minutes to tool around some of the contenders' blogs, and so far I'm rooting for Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal, if only because it -- on top of my friend Shona's urging -- have me now hankering to read Moby Dick. And that's no small feat, let me tell you.

From the introduction:
On June 11, 2004, an Oakland, California cat food cannery worker began keeping an online diary (known as a "web log" - or "blog" for short) to enlist the public's aid in finding the whale he alleged had eaten his wife, infant son and arm. The first few entries appear below.
But why click and scroll when, in just a couple of days, this blog apparently will be available in old-fashioned book form "at and in bookstores throughout the Seven Seas." Arrr, matey... that's good readin'!

Edited later to add: I take those last three paragraphs back. After reading Carrie's post in the comments section, I went to Gary Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal and actually read several entries, rather than just superficially enjoying the premise the way I did in my last go-through. And not to mince words, but it kinda sucks. Sorry, Gary Openshaw. I wish you the best of luck on the high seas. Don't take any crap from that whale.

So... can anyone else give me their informed scoop on these Blooker contenders? Who are you rooting for, if anyone?


Carrie said...

Doppleganger, G.O. is very bad! Trust me and see Bookslut in April...
Aren't i so subtle?

Anyway I am impressed about Boing Boing as I still love the zines.

Tammy said...

Oh, rats. This is what I get for proclaiming my fondness for something based almost exclusively on the premise. I hate you, Gus Openshaw!

Maybe I'll just stick with the original Moby Dick, then. Karen, this reading... they read the WHOLE THING? Egads. Is it a sleepover? Because that'd actually be a lot of fun.

Carolyn said...

I've only ever read one of the source blogs ... and that's because I had a blind date with the author. I'm a little freaked out now.

Carrie said...

Yeah, I loved the premise too... So much for that!

Anonymous said...

So ... I'm embarrassed.

I didn't think I'd heard of Project Gutenberg and clicked on it thinking it was about Steve Guttenberg and wondering why something like that was qualification enough to be a Blook Judge.

Something is wrong with my collective unconscious if the actual Gutenberg Press never even blipped my radar.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I got blogged about - a personal first! cheers, Doppelganger!

Anonymous said...

After reading one of the nominated blooks, I believe Lulu is more interested in drawing attention to their print-on-demand services than rewarding good writing. Any idiot can have their blog “published” tonight by uploading it to Lulu’s POD website.

While I have enormous respect for the judges, the one blook I read from their selected short list indicates to me the overall quality of entries may have been very poor.