Friday, September 07, 2007

Nonbelieving Literati: Update

OK, so some of you feel like you’ve got homework, right?

Well, John P., the Spanish Inquisitor, made a suggestion this week which I’ll share with you. Please comment so we can shape our little club.

John recommended a different format from the one I’d originally proposed, and I’d be happy to go along with it if enough of you like it better.

My original proposal, you’ll recall, was for us to write a series of independent essays (not book reviews or summaries) based on ideas suggested by the book we’ve read. We’d “launch” on a given date (September 15 in this case) and, eventually, perhaps, I’d collect all essays into a carnival. I hadn’t thought about responses we might have to one another’s essays; I suppose I just assumed we’d either leave comments on the essayists’ blogs, or, if our reactions were complex and long enough, post again.

John posits an ongoing blogversation instead. He proposes that I alone start with an essay, and that others post responses to it, and then we all post reactions to one another, leading to more feedback, etc. Personally, I think his idea is a bit unwieldy because (1) we’d each have to decide whether to respond via comments or posts and (2) when do we stop? Also, it has the topical limitation of jumping off from just one person’s take on the book. (Last, I’m concerned that some of you may already have written or planned your independent essays, and will feel “betrayed” by a sudden change of format.)

On the other hand, John’s recommendation does have the tremendous advantage of being a genuinely interactive event, rather than merely a simultaneous series of interrelated ones.

Frankly, I’m torn. But I haven’t written my essay yet. If we follow my original plan, I’ll try to fashion my commentary to be self-contained, thoughtful, and only mildly outrageous. If we follow John’s plan, I’ll probably craft my essay to be downright provocative and argumentative — in order to engender a hotter level of dialogue.

I’m comfortable with either approach here. You folks decide. The “voting” is open to all members, including our two newest: vjack at Atheist Revolution and Darren (both of whom said they won’t be taking part in the Julian discussion but will hop on board for the second book.)

[By the way, John P. was the quickest person to respond to my original post. Since that made him the first member, I thought he should select our next read. Tentatively, he has — something lighter and shorter than Julian. That’s a relief, eh? Watch here for the announcement some time in the next week or so.]


sacred slut said...

Well, my plan was to read the book and write about it. That's about as far as I went on any plan. I'm not very far into it, so it may be Sept 15+.

As someone else will probably post first, I may refer to other posts. Or not.

I'm flexible. Even if you tell me what to do I may do something else. ;-)

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I swing both ways.

Wait...let me rephrase that.

I'll do either. I just won't be around after tomorrow to see what the decision is, but I'll check in on the 14th when I get back.

Hope to have the book done by then.

yinyang said...

Seeing as I haven't started on it yet (oops), I'm down for either. I still think everyone should get their say by posting individually, though, because then people who couldn't or didn't want to comment would still be able to contribute to the pool of thought.

mel said...

I've really been enjoying the book. Can't wait to get started, and I'm partial to JohnP modification.

John - Evolutionary Middleman said...

As the last Literati to jump in (at least to the Julian section) I feel kind of bad putting in my 2 cents.

Kind of bad... but that hardly ever stops me.

Look, I think this is going to end up PLENTY "interactive" even doing your original way, Exterminator. Everyone I've heard make any kind of comment about Julian has been extremely positive about how much they are enjoying the read. So I can't imagine that we won't be very curious to see what each other has written and commenting frequently.

So I say, have each do an essay, and post it on their blog. You can have a MAIN POST (kind of like a carnival) announcing where each post can be found. In fact, rather than SUBMITTING it all to a carnival, I think you have your own version of a carnival right here, right now. It's just a new type of carnival format. If it gets too hectic for you, on future books we can trade off on hosting chores.

In fact, your original idea of individual essays on SOME ASPECT of the book, plays into this idea marvelously. Outside readers won't be bored reading a dozen different "reviews" of the same book because it won't be a review at all - just interesting thoughts provoked by the reading.

OK... so it was more like a dimes worth! My mind moves with my fingers. (and I'm a slow typist, so THAT'S a clue).

vjack said...

If everybody responded on their own blog and connected to the other participants via trackback/backlinks, the series just might end up being a traffic booster for everyone.

Of course, I'll defer to whatever you decide. The odds of me being able to finish a fiction book in a timely manner are fairly minimal since I devote most of my reading time to nonfiction.

PhillyChief said...

It's too late for me to jump in on Julian, but in light of the movie coming out in December, could I suggest reading The Golden Compass next? Maybe there could be 2 parts, a book review and then a review of it's adaption to the big screen?

Anyway, I look forward to what you all write about Julian and hopefully one day I'll get around to reading it myself.

John - Evolutionary Middleman said...

Vjack said: "The odds of me being able to finish a fiction book in a timely manner are fairly minimal since I devote most of my reading time to nonfiction."

I thought the same thing. Guess what? After all the non-fiction we've read, you go back to fiction and it becomes SUCH an easy read - if it's interesting. I whipped through the 500 plus pages of Julian (for me. I'm slow).

And I'm really glad I did it. It's a good idea to mix in some great literature here and there. I thought I didn't have time for it, but when Exterminator invited me it kind of rang a bell in my head about something I really should be doing.

ordinarygirl said...

I like the original idea better and here's why. If I comment on someone else's essay then I may completely agree and have very little to post in addition (which would make my own essay superfluous anyway, but..) If I write my own essay it will force me to write.

I think the second option is a little easier, but then I might end up being lazy as a result. The first option would force me to think through my own position before reacting to everyone else.

tobe38 said...

I've only just read this - it must have escaped my attention. I'm up for either method, but if it's individual essays mine will be late.