My own private Oprah book club.

Not all spam is poetry ... Sometimes it's literature.

Generating (apparently automatically) random strings of words isn't the only method of fooling spam filters. Sometimes full sentences from novels are posted into messages in order to cause the filters to think that a "real" message is being sent. It's via this system that I've read parts of Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. E-mail spam seems also to have caused Jeff Davis, a blogger in North Carolina, to take a special interest in Captain Blood. He also has an important observation on why not everyone actually sees these texts.

But Captain Blood was only my first exposure to this phenomenon. When I first encountered it, I wasn't even sure what was happening, and had to paste a string of text into Google in order verify that this was an "authentic" text. Since then I've been collecting these, sort of making a list of books that I might sometime get around to reading. I've received, for instance, a couple of passages from Misery by Stephen King (never read it, but I've seen parts of the movie) and (we're talking high culture here) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov which I read many years ago and enjoyed immensely.

And while working on this column a piece of spam arrived that used:
By the time Scarlett had undressed and blown out the candle, her plan for tomorrow had worked itself out in every detail. It was a
I didn't have to go far to figure out where this was from. (Actually, I prefer it when the spammer makes me work.) Still, I wanted to know if Gone With the Wind, like Captain Blood, was appearing with much frequency in spam messages. It's apparently very new, a rising, star on the filter dodging horizon. But I also discovered that, although the book is still under (very strict) copyright restrictions in the United States a full text version is available via the Australian version of Project Gutenberg where it is already in the public domain.

Go to: Spamming me softly with his song