Skip to main content

Periodical novels in the digital age, and scones

I'm reading The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith (a great title), the fifth in the 44 Scotland Street series of novels. It was originally published in The Scotsman, each short chapter a day. I'm enjoying it immensely, more than the previous one, the first one in this series which I've read. I think it's partly because I'm more familiar with the characters, and also because I was slightly distracted by the blurb in the other book which mentioned a minor plot point which I waited for ages to arrive. I think the blurb writer, given the intertwined nature of the stories and the lack of major plot points, seized on something to mention which actually was one of loads of details in the life of a character.

He writes in the introduction:
The story has numerous plots; characters drift in and out; some matters are unresolved; strange things happen. In short, a serial novel is particularly well-suited to the depiction of the shape of real life, which does not unfold in a strictly linear way.
It sounds like an ideal situation for an author who doesn't want to work too hard, but whether it is or not, it makes a great experience for the reader: a kind of literary soap opera, which dates back to Dickens day. I wondered how this experience could be translated into the modern day and wondered if there was good way of delivering the chapters in daily emails, paid for of course, so that the author could make a living, without making it too easy for people to republish illegally.

The reason I'm writing this review in the middle of the book is because I discovered that another of his books,  A Conspiracy of Friends, the third in the Corduroy Mansions series (like 44 Scotland Street, but in Pimlico, not Edinburgh) is available on the Telegraph website in daily instalments for free. Presumably this is some sort of experiment to see if the traffic it brings to the Telegraph site covers the costs. It was an interview with one of the characters in the Saturday paper alerted me to the online stuff. There's a Facebook group, and a discussion group on the website, but only with 31 members. So they're trying to build a bit of community around the book, but it's not really what you'd call humming. Interesting experiment to watch though.


Anonymous said…
The best hearts are always the bravest.


Popular posts from this blog

20 years of blogging: First post

Back in 1999 it mostly cost money to run a blog (from what I can remember). You had to sort out your own hosting. Then Dave Winer  made on offer on his blogging platform  for a 60 day free trial , so I was away. So what was my very first post? What words did I choose to post for all on the internet to see?  23 December 1999 I'm stil trying to decide what to do with this. Click on the skull to add your suggestion. Oh, that's not very good is it. A typo in the second word too. The URL was (I think. Everything I say could be unreliable, because it was a while ago.) I also created an FAQ page that day: Who are the Morriss family? We are just a normal family with a dad who likes exploring the internet. Why don't you have more information? Because I'm not sure want I want to do with this site. I think there are no typos there. The idea was that I would share family news. Come back in January to see what my next

Cardboard seven inch tablet stand

When I got a Playbook I wanted to use it to listen to BBC iPlayer while doing the washing up. So I made a cardboard tablet stand out of the cardboard you get with new shirts. Recently I came across a video by Jude Pullen showing how to make a right angle joint with card and it inspired me to share what I'd done, via a PDF rather than a video though. The PDF below is for a Playbook but I would have thought that any seven inch tablet, like the Kindle Fire or the Google Nexus 7 would fit. If in the unlikely event they are more chunky than the Playbook, you can just cut the slot wider. It's probably more sturdy if you make it out of a corrugated cardboard. Seven inch tablet stand

20 years of blogging: fourth post

4/1/2000 Things are moving   We've had the letter from Wycliffe about "raising support".  They want us to aim that 25% of our income comes from other people by the end of a year, and 50% by the end of two years.  Other news: I've officially asked for voluntary redundancy Spoiler: after 4 years of trying I didn't even get to 20%, so I was paid a salary after all.