Syllabus 76

I have an essay on Empty State, a new website dedicated to exploring the ways in which writers do or do not use digital communications in fiction.

In Syllabus 76 I think about the role of Facebook in my story The Syllabus of Errors, from the collection of the same name, and whether the story would be the same if I’d set in 1976.

‘This summoning of ghost versions is normal on the internet — it’s how the internet works on all of us, but especially the needy and bitter. As spurs for fictions, the everyday potential of semi-random online encounters paired with snapshots and images works no differently than the ‘glimpses’ Henry James refers to in The Art of Fiction, but with the extra dimension that they can be revisited ad infinitum by the brooder unless he or she oversteps the mark. As this new unstable element in human relationships is here to stay (Facebook may well be declining but social media is not) it seems a shame that more writers are not exploring it as scrupulously as they do the recent and distant past, with its limited vistas and different shades of solitude.’


You can read the whole piece here.

Empty State is looking for fiction, reviews and features that engage with how the internet intersects with writing and storytelling. Contact details are on the website.