If Holden Caulfield could blog

Reviewing the latest roundup of literary blogs

I’ve been thinking about Booker Prize chair Sir Peter Stothard’s claims in September that book bloggers are at risk of damaging literature. His comments made me wonder whether the fictional creations we revere as the pinnacle of literary worthiness would be bloggers worth subscribing to these days.

Elizabeth Bennet
Sassy and provocative, Lizzie blogs on everything from books to relationships. She is controversial, but her posts are always well-argued. She delights when the objects of her satire think she is in earnest and ‘Like’ her on their Facebook pages. Lady Catherine de Bourgh puts Lizzie on her list of blocked websites. Darcy makes supercilious remarks in the comments section that Lizzie conveniently never gets around to approving. Mr Collins suggests he co-author her blog. Lizzie forwards his email to Charlotte and marks his email address as spam.

Fagin has a charming, self-deprecatory blog that subtly makes him out to be a hero. He has paid advertising slots, for which he only accepts cash. He promises regular posts but does not deliver. Most of his posts are misspelled, and one gets the impression he’s been drinking. He has. Law enforcement agencies have code breakers watching his site 24/7, suspecting he’s organising illicit activities by means of his blog posts. He is. He complains a lot about a ‘layabout’ called Bill. He is sickeningly sycophantic in his replies to reader comments, but while he types he is secretly giving them all the finger.

His latest post reads:

‘Reviewing the situation’

Nance hasn’t been round in a while. Bill looking shiftier than usual. Job and/or wife needed possibly? Opened one of the books Oliver left here. Lovely shiny pound sign on the front. All about someone called ‘Ponzi’. Think I’ve found me new business partner …

Dante’s travel blog is niche, and immediately garners a lot of followers. They wear black and were bullied in high school. His posts are engaging, if far-fetched. He whinges a lot about the ‘terrible mobile reception down here’. His pictures take too long to load. He receives a defamation claim from someone called Satan. His posts mysteriously peter out after the ninth.

Holden Caulfield
Holden’s blog has a cool background but if you look at it with your eyes half closed you realise you’re looking at a penis. Holden says this *kills him*. His sentences are muddled. Most of his posts are tagged ‘phonies’. There are lots of pictures of a red hunting cap from different angles. He rarely bothers with punctuation. Instead of ‘Leave a comment’, his blog reads ‘Are you there mother?’ No-one gets the joke so he never gets any interaction. He forgets to filter spam and soon his site is full of offers of XXX photos for ‘special no price’. Curious, Holden contacts one of the spammers, but the thought of opening the pictures starts to depress him so he tries to chat instead. Eventually he annoys them so much with his incessant messaging that they block him.

Edmond Dantès
Dantès posts every day without fail. His sentences are short and churlish. He signs off as ‘The Count’. He has never seen Sesame Street so the humour is lost on him. Every post promises death and destruction to people called ‘Danglars’, ‘Fernand’, and ‘Villefort’. He doesn’t tweet, but his Facebook relationship status reads: ‘It’s complicated’.

His latest post reads:

So they have a son together. Guess how angry I am right now? (Note, actual guesses will earn you a place on my list.) How to punish them? (Note, actual suggestions will be considered interfering and will earn you a place on my list.)

Dr Jekyll
Dr Jekyll runs an informative science blog. He has a dire following among people who run Linux and are never seen out of sweatpants. Every now and then he spews mindless vitriol at readers for no apparent reason. He has been in trouble more than once for ‘impulse’ tweeting. Now he gets Facebook ‘Likes’ from Star Trek fans and people who listen to Black Sabbath.

Dorian Gray
Dorian Gray’s blog used to be sweet and unimaginative. He used the standard WordPress theme and sported a goofy smile in his headshot. Lately he’s changed his site design to ‘grunge’ and taken his photo down.

His latest post reads:

No, you can’t ask where my picture has gone.

Gollum’s posts vacillate between angry outbursts at someone called ‘Bagginses’, narcissism and verbal self-flagellation. He posts in a confusing mix of third person and first person plural. His twitter handle is @precious. Most of his tweets concern birthday presents. He ends every post with ‘We hates it forever!’ Every month he hosts a ‘Riddle Meme’, but insists on always posting the same riddle: What has it got in its pocketses?

His latest post reads:

‘String or nothing’

Nasty, thieving Bagginses! We hates it! Leave a comment and we’ll gives you a fish. Lovely, tasty fish. ‘Like’ Bagginses on Facebook and we’ll eats you alive. Tasty, lovely reader … gollum, Gollum …

Piggy names his blog ‘The real wimpy kid’s diary’. His tagline resignedly reads ‘I know, I know, sucks to my blog’. His only guest blogger is his Aunty. His posts are punctuated by pauses for asthma attacks. He writes frequently about a friend called Ralph. Readers suspect his friend is imaginary. He is terrified of pointy sticks, large rocks and seashells. He has negative ‘Likes’ on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is impressed. He didn’t think that was even possible.

The Puddin’
The Puddin’ keeps a food blog. He signs his posts ‘Albert’ and becomes irate when readers call him Puddin’. His scathing reviews have cost more than one restaurant a chef’s hat. He frequently complains of ill conduct at the hands of ‘puddin’ thieves’. His ‘About’ page lists his interests as ‘being eaten’, ‘being eaten with a side of beans’ and ‘shouting at people’. Dislikes include ‘possums’, ‘wombats’, ‘the justice system’ and ‘people in general’. He has 1 million twitter followers but refuses to follow anyone but Kanye West. His owners have just released a bestselling book, Sh*t My Puddin’ Says. There is talk of a sitcom.

For Christmas he posted:

‘Recipe for enjoying Christmas’

Take one large bottle of port
Pour liberally over puddin’ (preferably magic)
Put puddin’ in cupboard
Leave the bloody hell alone

So if you’re a book blogger feeling guilty about damaging literature with every word you type, don’t despair. You’re in good company. ‘Classic’ company, even.

I’m not entirely sure Sir Stothard would approve, but then again, as Holden Caulfield says: ‘It’s really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes.’

*This article first appeared in NSW Writer’s Centre magazine Newswrite, Issue 206, Dec 2012 – Jan 2013, pp 16-17. Reproduced with permission.*

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