Mr. Amazon’s Bookshop: The French Lieutenant’s Bookshop?

[This would be the thirteenth episode of Mr. Amazon's Bookshop, if it were an episode. The previous episode is here. A list of all episodes is here. In the previous episode, Kylie and Edmund vanished from Whimsley Hall after finding out that Mr. Amazon's recommendations were doing nothing to help sell Kylie's story The Adventures of Wazzock. Whimsley sunk into a brief depression before being roused by Jennie the one-legged housekeeper, who sent him into the village just in time to see Kylie and a pack of teenagers heading towards Mr. Amazon's Bookshop with trouble on their minds.]

I wrote the first ten episodes of this story in a couple of weeks around Christmas, when I had some time off work and the story seemed fresh and interesting. The two most recent episodes have been written on weekends in and around cooking, cleaning and so on. And now we have all the principals with the exception of Jennie the one-legged housekeeper – Whimsley, Google, Kylie, Edmund (who is in the crowd, near the back, though you might not have noticed him), Mr. Amazon -  in one place, and something dramatic is obviously about to happen. But what?

Now I don't want to go all John Fowles here (see the book in the title) and pontificate about the nature of the plot as artifice and the role of the author. That's so last century. Plus, when Fowles wrote that he could send his heroine this way or that, and when he wrote his alternative endings, he had actually finished his book, so the questioning of his role as author was a little precious.

My problem is different. I don't have two ways to finish the story, I have none. In fact, there is no story from here on.

I have some ideas about things that might happen next, including what seems to me a rather neat twist about the obviously impending assault on Mr. Amazon's Bookshop, but they are vague and they have problems. Not least among them is my growing tiredness with Whimsley himself. His one-dimensional nature was a benefit in Mr. Google's Guidebook (written just over a year ago! how time flies), but after stretching him over 15,000 words rather than 2,000 I am not sure there is much more to be said about the internet from the point of view of a delusional alcoholic gothic anachronism.

I did think Kylie may provide an alternative focus for the story, but she has fallen somewhere between a youthful village mob-boss, a smart and witty kid, and a yokel, without one aspect of her character really crystallizing in my imagination.

And then there is the technology issue. Clearly the Kindle has to come in to the plot somehow. Having Google already on scene means that a last-minute twist driven by the Google Book Settlement might be a nice way to finish off the tale. Perhaps Kylie drives Amazon out of town only to hand Google her stories for him to distribute? And I am sure that after all this it will turn out that there are indeed mole-people, but that they are working for Google, not Amazon, slavishly copying all those books for his ever-expanding guidebook.

So we will see. I realize this raises questions about the responsibility of the author to finish a story once started. I would like to finish it, and I expect that I will do so. But there will be no episode this week.

This is not a fish for attention and reinforcement, by the way. I have appreciated the comments on earlier episodes. And to prove that it is not, I will close comments on this posting. It's just an observation that I have other things going on, like work and family and friends and books and spring, and I have no episodes stocked away ready to be brought out and posted. If anyone wishes to continue the story on their own blog, feel free: I will be happy to link to it.

So with that, see you next week, with luck.

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