Sun’s out again, I had a lovely very soft launch for latest opus Fragile Minds and I’ve been lucky enough to be receiving various reviews for the book; if you’re interested, some examples here: Reviewing the Evidence here, Books and Writers here and New Books here (“extremely intelligent thriller – missing the characters already” – thank you, Shona, wherever you may be), CrimeSquad here (I like the phrase “deliciously blunt prose”.). So far, so good by and large though of course there are criticisms too. And in case I ever got too complacent, there are inevitably a few Amazon reviewers who apparently hate me, let alone my writing, despite never having met (classic comments include “”she obviously got a book deal because of her media contacts” – oh, if only you knew the truth – and “she needs a ghost writer” – any offers?!) Which has made me ponder how easy it is to write WHATEVER you want these days because of the internet – and is that a good or a bad thing? I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, but there’s a thin line between fact and fiction…which leads me onto this:
On Thursday I did a lecture on Drama Documentary down at Greenwich University. It involved much complicated downloading of clips (largely so the students could watch more and I could talk less); films we looked at included United 93 about 9/11 which used both actors and real people playing themselves; The Arbor, a brilliantly innovative film about playwright Andrea Dunbar’s tragic life; the much-debated ‘doc’ Catfish and, um, TOWIE ( that masterpiece, The Only Way is Essex to those less in the know). I mentioned ‘manipulated’ documentaries – see Faking It, Wife Swap etc – and then in the examples I showed, about what was real and what was invented or skewed by the producers. A fellow lecturer was intrigued by ‘whose truth is real’ (probably more so than the students whom I’m never sure are actually listening, more likely texting mates about who is ‘well sick': this, apparently, is desirable. Yep, my mind’s boggling too). Which leads me onto this:
Yesterday morning, drinking coffee in the conspicuously trendy-dom of Shoreditch (slightly painful and frightening, actually, I find it), I read ex-colleague Adam Curtis’s interview in The Guardian here: his new documentary series is about how computers have not freed us but helped us lose our vision. He talks about the wonderful/ evil twins (delete appropriately to your personal taste)Facebook & Twitter: “On Facebook & Twitter you are performing to attract people – dancing emotionally on a platform created by a large corporation.” He goes onto compare our revealing our feelings to Stalin’s socialist realism but at that point in the article, I had to go meet my mate (Ok, he slightly lost me)…it is fascinating though, and I think he’s right. Who exactly are we tweeting/ Facebooking for – and is it ‘truthful’?! My publishers constantly harangue me to Tweet – I did sign up a few years ago but I only managed to attract couple of female porn stars (confused but flattered, really, girls!), then promptly lost my password and couldn’t ever seem to log in again (those who know me won’t be surprised at this).
Having watched The Social Network the other night, about the advent of Facebook (and sorry, I must just add, Andrew Garfield is CUTE, and that’s my truth. And the au pair’s), I’ve felt slightly dirty Facebooking this weekend (am sure it will pass) but also noted that the genius inventor Zuckerberg actually did so to attract the attention of an ex-girlfriend who’d just dumped him. That, for me, kind of sums it up really.