Friday, October 07, 2005

Building Character

I started reading this blog about a month ago. The postings were infrequent, but well-written and nicely developed His last post had several revelations that were astounded the readers: Everything was fake.

But I realized an important idea along the way: when crafting a persona, what you don’t say is often more important than what you include: since I never explicitly stated that I wasn’t a student at that durned university across the street from the station, people naturally inferred that I wasn’t; since in “The Master,” I mentioned that I was a bartender at a Big Ten school, and not, coincidentally, that I was earning my BA, it never even occurred to anyone to ask if I had.
As he expected, people felt betrayed. Blogs are assumed to be written by real people, not characters from a book, which essentially was his goal. Their collective outrage has been expressed in the comments to the final post as well as emails sent directly to him. I was thrilled to find out that he had created such a believable character that took what appeared to be ordinary life and made the details memorable. The collection is similar to Bridget Jone's Diary. Helen Fielding's novel started as a column in a British newspaper. I believe, but am not certain, that it was declared to be fiction at the initial column. The Gas Guy did basically the same thing, except he told us it was fiction at the end and the medium was a blog, not newsprint. I say this man should be credited for his achievements, not criticized for disappointing his readers. If the medium had been a book or some other printed form, John Q. probably would have loved it.

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