As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve been rereading How To Travel With A Salmon, a book of comic essays, mostly, by Umberto Eco. I first read it when I was an impressionable, pretentious teenager,* and hadn’t looked at it for about ten years.
I hate to admit it, really, but reading it back now, the first thing that came to mind was: if it was written today, people would be saying how much like a blog it is. Lots of short essays, each only a couple of pages in length. And the style of writing is, in fact, exactly the style of writing that I’m often trying to aim for myself. Witty, dry, sarcastic, intelligent and good-humoured. Reading it now, I realise just how many jokes I didn’t get as a teenager. It’s been a secret influence on this place for a long time, without me realising it.
Of course, the book is far better than anything that’s been written here. But then again, he’s a much better writer than me, and this isn’t being sold in the shops. It’s always good to have something you can aspire to. It’s also not a blog, despite what I said above: the essays were written over the course of about fifteen years or so, mostly in the 1980s. It’s a book, though, that now I’ve remembered I have I’m going to read again, because there’s a lot for any writer to learn from.
* I can remember where I bought it, in fact – at Blackwells in Oxford, on a school trip to the university’s open day.
If this week seems to have gone quickly, it’s because I haven’t been blogging very much. My social life is getting the better of me.
Talking of blogging, one of the branch managers at work has apparently started too. I’m intrigued, but not enough to want to read it. The next thing you know, the Managing Director will be getting a Livejournal.
Update on last month’s post about Christian science fiction: whilst searching for something else, I discovered the book I was thinking of when I wrote it. It’s Operation Titan by Dilwyn Horvat. I’ve tried searching for more information about Horvat, but not very much has turned up. I’m not even sure whether Dilwyn is a male or female name.**
The book I was searching for, incidentally, was How To Travel With A Salmon by Umberto Eco, because I wanted to reread his essay “How To Recognise A Porn Movie”. It’s a long, long story,* but it’s tangentially linked to this post from last August, one of the first things I wrote here. I’ll post more about it soon, I’m sure.
* which, to explain, would take several pages of context, description, links to discussions elsewhere, links to political campaigning sites, links to sites you probably shouldn’t read at the office, and lots more explanation, and probably, diagrams.
** Update, August 26th 2020: Internet searches have become rather more sophisticated in the last 14 years, so nowadays it will tell you that Dilwyn Horvat is a Welsh male Christian SF author whose only books are Operation Titan and its sequel Assault on Omega 4. I vaguely remember that the sequel is not set on the moon Titan like the first book; instead it’s in a grimdark post-apocalyptic Oxford.