Monday, May 22, 2006

May Two-Four Long Weekend (and Short Novels)

I'm off today.
That's right.

Canada has a long weekend on May 24 (or closest to), the first of the summer. Why do we call May Two-Four you might ask? Well... because you see... because it is traditional to drink some on this weekend and a Two-Four is also a case of beer (24). So that's Canada's tradition and culture for you.

But who cares??? I'm off today and that's what counts! And soon I'll even get started on that drinking tradition...

So what did I do so far on my day off? No writing, but I -

  • cleaned the shed

  • ran the dishwasher

  • re-did my template - you'll see it soon

  • updated my links - added many and put in the right ones for all those who moved. If I missed anybody, please let me know. And thank you for being patient with me.

  • read the following article from Slate - Debating the Best American Fiction - In praise of "small" novels. The article relates to the best works of American fiction of the last 25 years listed on the New York Times (remember? I've mentioned it on my post - Best American Fiction, Bookstores and UFOs) and notes how there aren't many shorter novels on that list.
    Allow me to quote a few key sentences:
    [...] our notion of the great American novel became entwined with a perception that shorter books weren't, somehow, as serious. Seriousness required self-consciousness, and self-consciousness required expansiveness.

    The notion that "small" novels are unworthy of high critical esteem has been especially pervasive of late.

    What's been lost in the conflation of "small" and "small-minded" is the recognition that small books can be powerful vehicles for big ideas—to say nothing of powerful examples of aesthetic rigor.

    Well, I love shorter novels if they're good and I love longer novels if they're good... seems I like good novels no matter the length so the writer in this piece didn't need to go far to persuade me.

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    4 comments:

    Ryan Oakley said...

    I worked the whole weekend. And I spent 30 bucks on a very short book. It had big ideas but short books should be cheaper. I am paying, after all, to be entertained for a period of time.

    Melly said...

    Ryan, are you really paying to be entertained for a period of time?
    I do tend to agree that I would like book prices to have some relation to their length, but the short classics usually cost quite a lot.

    Cavan said...

    I remember the reaction of my girlfriend's family when they first saw a hardcopy of my book (at 170 pages).

    "So it's a kid's book, then? Would it be OK for a nine year old?"
    Me: "Err...well, no. Unless he's really into sex and violence."
    "Why is it so short then? People might get confused."

    Unfortunate that this mindset is still around, because there are a lot of great short works out there.

    Melly said...

    Cavan, the only people that might get confused are... well... we know who they are. I mean, so many shorter novels are classic greats that it's ridiculus to infer anything about the novel from its length.
    Of course I'm sure that some shorter novels suck, but as the saying goes: Don't judge a book by it's length (or something like it :)