I’m in the midst of reading Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers. For years, I couldn’t stand Dickens’s wordiness — he makes it all too obvious that he got paid by the word — and I refused to even try to read his books. But there’s no real plot in Pickwick Papers, which means I don’t have to suffer through a hundred pages to find out how and if a character dies. And the wordiness of Pickwick Papers is devoted to anecdote, not to unbearably long descriptions of, say, the road from London to Paris. In short, unlike some of Dickens’s other books, Pickwick Papers doesn’t drag.
Not only that, but this is precisely the kind of book that I believe would make a good blog: memorable characters having episodic adventures, adventures which appear in a serialized format. I’ve seen something like this trying to emerge in a few of the more adventurous blogs, but so far bloggers seem to think that blogging can only be non-fiction; or perhaps more to the point, no one with Dickens’s immense talent is yet writing a blog.
Yet why not? Why wouldn’t a modern-day Dickens write a blog instead of a print-based book? It is worth considering that technology allowed Dickens to write the way he did. Technical advances leading to cheaper printing and binding, and a more efficient distribution system, led to the serialized writing at which Dickens excelled. Perhaps in time the World Wide Web will produce its own literary geniuses to equal Dickens; though it seems to me that we have a long way to go.
In the mean time, I’m reading Pickwick Papers. While I’m reading it I’m not reading much of anything on the Web. Dickens’s book scratches whatever itch of mine was getting scratched by reading blogs.