Looking for Augustine

James Francken

  • Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
    Hamish Hamilton, 276 pp, £14.99, June 2002, ISBN 0 241 14166 4

Advertising campaigns for new books have changed their well-established patterns, bringing the old ways of the marketplace up to date. Publishers are using the Internet to drum up business; authors have created websites that give themselves a plug. But some authors seem nonplussed by the need for all this self-promotion, distrusting the visitors their sites may attract. ‘If you are a lazy and/or unimaginative journalist,’ A.L. Kennedy chaffs on her website, ‘you may consider using the material contained in these pages to pad out your column/op-ed/ diary/think-piece/article. We would simply point out that others have been here before you.’ Kennedy anticipates the low-level curiosity of her readers – ‘never mind the work, let’s review the author’ – and prickles at misplaced interest in her life: ‘someone who sits alone for hours at a time, typing, must be really fascinating and it beats having to think about anything, doesn’t it?’ Her tone is a bit pissy, although the site itself is quite user-friendly: if you follow the links far enough, it offers a full-page photo of the author to download. The author’s photo is harder to find at tobylitt.com; it seems that the novelist has been badgered into showing off his mugshot: ‘if you really want to know, I look like this.’ But lassitude doesn’t get a look in at the website of the crime-writer Lisa Scottoline. Fired with the task of shifting copies of her latest legal thriller, out next month, Scottoline comes on strong. She has installed a web-cam in her office at home: ‘Lisa Cam’ provides a live picture every day from nine until noon so that curious fans can ‘watch her creative juices flow’.

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