Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google is the lamest plot device

I am now completely absorbed by Janice Kulyk Keefer's Thieves, which is an extraordinary literary mystery along the lines of Possession, but, dare I say, more enjoyable to read? And formidable based upon the fact that Kulyk Keefer writes about characters who actually lived. Layer upon layer of story, and what fun to unravel.

And it occurs to me that the internet might just be the worst thing that ever happened to narrative. I've been thinking about this as I read Thieves, which takes place in the late 1980s, and whose questions have to be answered without the convenient aid of a google search. I read a novel last week that did employ the google search as its primary plot device, and the whole thing was just way too easy, shapeless. Can you imagine Atwood's Cat's Eye if Elaine had been able to track down Cordelia via the tinternet? If Anne Shirley had googled a potion to darken her red hair to auburn, rather than purchasing said potion from a peddler. If Roland and Maud Bailey had used the internet instead, bypassing the need for them to meet. If any of Reta Winters' immense knowledge and wisom in Unless had come from an internet search, rather than from her very own mind. Because a character's store of knowledge tells us so much about them, and what they don't know too, and to have a whole world of answers at their fingertips almost takes away the very point of a story.