Once In A While You Get Shown The Light In The Strangest Of Places If You Look At It Right

by | Sep 5, 2007

Author and recovering zinester, Pagan Kennedy, has a funny essay in the Times Sunday Book Review about literary corners of MySpace.

I’d jumped into the social-networking site after a fellow author told me I absolutely had to use MySpace to promote my forthcoming book. “I’d try it myself, but I feel too old to be on that thing,” she said. So here I was navigating though pages of Hello Kitty wallpaper and frat brothers wearing chicken heads. Supposedly, thousands of writers had migrated onto MySpace, but where were they? Eventually, through trial and error, I discovered the best way to find them: if you type the right word into the site’s search engine — say, “Foucault” or “Kafka” — you will tumble through the rabbit hole into MySpace’s literary scene.

Imagine a version of Studio 54 where Jane Austen, wearing nothing but gold panties, vomits all over Harold Bloom’s shoes while infomercials for debut novels flash on the walls. In literary MySpace, most people are cruising: they’re hoping to find cute nerds, to hype a memoir or to indulge some bookworm fetish. Pranksters pretending to be Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Ovid rub elbows with authors masquerading as their own characters. Of course, many of the profiles are just glorified advertising pages. And yet, amid all the craziness, readers have formed dozens of groups — for instance, Ladies and Lads of Library Land — to engage in serious bibliophilic conversation.