Early last year I put 157 of my favorite authors’ names into Google Alerts, thinking I’d cut down the time I spent reading blogs. After you sign up for an alert, Google forwards you every news story containing the name Rupert Thomson or AL Kennedy or Jonathan Lethem or Graham Greene or whatever. For free.
Magical, right? But there are some pitfalls, and I don’t just mean the profusion of unread messages in my inbox. Much as I am sorry for the plight of poor little leukemia-stricken James Hynes, I could do without the daily updates on his condition. If a twig burns in the Mark Twain National Forest, I don’t need to know about it. And my God will I be glad when Stephen Elliott’s ankle finally heals.