Long Novel vs. Novella Cage Match!

Granted, Tony Covatta’s upcoming Literary Journey series: Mother Russia, which covers  The Brothers Karamazov and War and Peace has received an overwhelming  response, selling out faster than a water wings sale on the Titanic, novellas, or short novels, are allegedly experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and not just because notorious taste maker Rich Lauf is leading another upcoming Mercantile series on the form, although it probably has something to do with it.  I have to admit, I like novellas.  Novels are fine too, but too often I find my attempts to get through them stymied by the exigencies and frivolities of modern life.   Sure, there’s something about a labyrinthine  text that you can lose yourself in, but then there’s the world, itself a labyrinth, easy to lose one’s self in.  Novellas tend to keep their sails square to a vigorous wind (okay, poorly chosen metaphor, but this is a blog post.  What did you expect?)  Heart of Darkness has that inexorable movement up the Congo, The Crying of Lot 49 its self-propelled weirdness, The Dead its strange shift in rhythm and mood.  And who has the time or inclination for Under Western EyesGravity’s Rainbow, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man these days?

Craziest of all, authors continue to write novellas and publishing houses to publish them–Walks With Men, by Ann Beattie, for example, this year’s smart, succinct read.  Then there’s the all-too-powerful fashion-statement aspect associated with these forms: what does appearing on public transportation with this or that say about you?  Large novels: you have a lot of time on your hands and, while clearly you possess the stamina to drag that thing around, you’re a loner and therefore a sociopath lacking consideration for the  fellow passengers who,  in the event of an accident, will be brained by Anna Karenina or worse, Proust.  Readers of long novels are widely considered to be dreamers and/or foreign sympathizers.  The novella, however, screams “Look at me!  I’m too busy to read anything that long.  Also, my bag is too full of important things like my twenty obligatory electronic devices and accessories for me to heft anything too weighty.  Thick books are like, so 2009.” -Ed Scripsi

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Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. “The Bridge of Lost Desire” by Samuel R. Delany is my current bus festish novella book to brain someone with if the bus were to suddenly stop and knock the thing out of my hand.


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