Wednesday, July 14, 2010

There is something about the revolutions in writing that captures our imagination, new writing that we're ready for, that arrives and then we wonder how time had been spent without it for so long. 

I am reading Raymond Chandler at present, partly because I never have and partly because I had been in search of a cheap paperback. Our copy of The Big Sleep was selected not only because it was a desperately cheap and worn copy, that had lain unread in our shelves for years, but because I would not be sorry should I drop it into the bath I intended to read in. 

That I loved it, would be an understatement. Partly submerged, I found myself transported to the world of Philip Marlow, without question the most notable example of everything we have come to understand a hardboiled detective should be. The writing is tight and efficient, and wonderful.

Thinking about the book later, (I didn't drop it by the way) I considered that while we have seen new writers challenge and embrace writing for the web in exciting new forms, none have yet made the impact that Chandler did. None yet at least. One of his more enthusiastic admirers was Auden incidentally, which I find quite intriguing; though both were masters of the economy of language. 

It makes me wonder when we will be ready for a new form of story, a web novel that takes full advantage of the medium. The hardware we read on has become more portable, we are already interacting with the texts we read, the software and ingenuity are with us already. More importantly, the market is ready, or almost ready, or such a novel.

It is I think, only a matter of time before a new writer that takes full advantage of all these things and writes a novel designed to take best advantage of this new interactive space. A writer that will embrace digital story writing in a way that we haven't yet seen widely celebrated. A writer that makes a change as notable as Chandler's did in his day to the way we understand and enjoy story.

I wonder who that new writer will be, and what new and creative form their writing will take online. There are an increasing number of contenders, but none that have yet captured our imagination in quite the same way as Chandler did. None yet at least.