Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A blog-to-flook story

The Hollywood movie, The Devil Wears Prada, that won for Meryl Streep a Golden Globe Award (2007, for best actress) started life as a blog by Lauren Weisberger. She had blogged about her days as an assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour. It made such sensational reading that a publisher chose to make a book of it. The book became a best-seller and morphed into a movie. Ms. Weisberger has since written another book, described by Kimberly Llewellyn as a novel about the glammed-out New York city life entitled Everyone Worth Knowing. Kimberly, a four-book novelist, blogging on Lauren says, "I'd never seen anything like it. The I-Love-Lauren websites. The I-hate-Lauren sites. Incredible. I don't recall a time when a writer has evoked such emotion in readers."

Lauren Weisberger's case may be exceptional, but it does make the point that every other blogger may have a book in him/her. The genre is called 'blook'. But the urge to make a blook of their blogs remains for ever bottled up within most bloggers. Mercifully so, one might add. For, in this age of e-book and self-publishing, if the blooker genie were to get out of every blogger's bottle, there would be a literary tsunami in the publishing scene. It is guesstimated that there are some 50 million blogs out there in blogosphere, and 75,000 more created every day. It is an ego trip for a whole lot of them, blogging. Someone called it e-casting ('e' for ego).

A blook, if you haven't heard, is a hybrid literary form. It is a book that started life as a blog. This new literary genre holds out enticing possibilities. Bloggers, particularly failed authors, need not look for a publisher; nor worry about rejection slips. The age of self-publishing is with us. And the blook is here to stay. The founder of a self-publishing site, Bob Young, has even instituted the Lulu Blooker Award, on the lines of the reputed Man Booker Prize. The inaugural year blooker prize, announced in April last year, attracted 89 entries from 12 countries.

And the winner was blogger Julie Powell, 33, till then an unpuiblished author holding a dead-end office job in New York. She told The Guardian that blogging had kick-started her writing career. And she had no idea what a blog was until her husband initiated her into it. The jury described her blook, "a heartfelt, funny and occasionally obscene tell-all about her journey of self-discovery and cholesterol."

It all started when Julie Powell, frustrated with publishers' rejection slips, and bored with her day job, sought to engage herself by trying out all 524 recipes given in a book of French cookery. Her understanding husband not only tasted what she dished out but also suggested that Julie chronicle her cookery efforts in an online journal. The blog attracted a publisher's attention, and the rest, as they say, is history. Julie's blook is reported to have sold 100,000 copies. Among short-listed entries was by another foodie, Russell Davies who blook-ed a blog on his visits to London's 'greasy spoon' cafes. Title of the blook: Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans.

The cookery blook-ing reminds me of a friend, Vidya Nagaraj, who has blogged about her online search to get the right recipe for 'masale-puri', a Mysore street-food specialty. Vidya lives in a small Japanese town where her family of four are the only Indians. Her perseverance to take on a Japanese town with her culinary might, her masale-puri recipe hunt, the response of Mysoreans to uphold the culinary reputation of Vidya, nay, of India, in remote Japan, and the hassles of being a vegetarian in a town of non-veggies has in them the spark of a blook.

As she put it in her blog, A Mysorean's Japan Diary, "Vegetable choices are very limited in this small town. For the first time in my life, I saw beans and ladies-finger sold in packets of 6 and 10... Now what is a south Indian vegetarian supposed to do with just 8 or 10 beans?"

Aviator Capt. Anup Murthy was minding his own business (of doing consultancy work and flying airplanes) till he took to blogging some months back. A few weeks into his incarnation as blogger Anup realized he was developing an audience beyond his family and friends. His blog now has a cult following and Anup's air travelogue has given rise to a plea that he publish his blog journal in Kannada.

A Mysore cardiologist, Dr Javeed Nayeem, who has taken to blogging writes about Tabebuia blossoming in his town as knowledgeably as charting a network of heritage walks through Mysore, a town steeped in history. And then we have in Mysore a potential blooker in Mr. Krishna Vattam, an old-time journalist, who recently underwent a crash course in the use of computer conducted by his school-going grandson, so that he could get into blogging to "kick-start his literary writing career". Mr. Vattam's recollection of anecdotal stories on life and past times of Mysore and his propensity to view current events in the context of Mysore's recent history could make engaging blog material. And a potential blook.

The blog-to-movie progression of The Devil Wears Prada makes another point. That there is something beyond blook, for a hit blog - a 'flook'. A flick made out of blook.

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