Celebrating geek love fiction in a unique diary format.
Being the all-round insensitive musclehead I am, of course I never had a Livejournal. (And still, er, don’t.) It’s certainly seen better days in terms of population – though I suspect still more people visit it daily than they do Myspace – but back in the day it was the social website for sharing thoughts, feelings and, er, whines about being single. None of which I did.
This popular online diary forms the basis for the entries in a book I recently picked up called Caster’s Blog, right down to the cheeky similarities in site design. Its author is Ray Caster; a man working a job he hates, with friends who don’t call, and going by those previous two statements, would’ve been a man after my own anti-social heart for a while back there.
In lieu of a proper social life, Ray records his thoughts and feelings in his online diary, aided and abetting by his online friends who leave comments after every entry. Once the narrative takes pace, however, these commenters chime in more with encouragement and advice on how to help Ray break out of his doldrums and try to form some sort of life – and meaningful relationship with a woman.
But with a friend who calls himself Turbo Dan, an abusive co-worker screaming obscenities down the phone all day, and a dream girl who feels way out of his league, who ever said this would be easy?
I like the diary format of this book very much; it puts me very much in mind of Microserfs by Douglas Coupland – without a doubt one of my all-time favourite books – and the idea that he has this forum of online friends to advise and coach him through the sticky situations provides a great balance so that we’re not seeing things only through his own eyes, but those of others too despite only having Ray’s version of events to base their reactions on.
Saying that though, if there’s ever one place where the ‘snark’ can be done to death, it’s online; and some of the arguments which arise seem a bit forced (even though – and this is another unique angle to Caster’s Blog – some of these opinions are from real-life people fooled into believing this fictional story was happening to a real person as they read along on Livejournal.) The true author, Marcus Alexander Hart (credited ‘as told to’ on the sleeve) took up some of these identities to try and move the narrative along. It’s a very interesting experiment but one which could easily have failed.
But it didn’t. And I enjoyed this book despite its weaknesses: it needed just a few more edits as it tended to ramble off (appreciating that this purported to be an online diary where that kind of self-censorship doesn’t exist, it still does take away from the tightness somewhat). And there were just one or two too many convenient character twists in the plot for me – again, a little too contrived for its format.
All in all though, a very enjoyable read. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off to update my own Live…er, XBox Live subscription.
Yeah. That’ll fool ‘em.