A Word On Short Novels
What have On Chesil Beach, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Don DeLillo's Point Omega got in common? Bewitching narratives concealing hidden depths? Check. Characters dealing with broken lives? Check. Authors performing at the peak of their prowess? Check. All read by me in a single week recently? Oh yes, check. How? Because they're all under 150 pages long.
It's taken me a long time to realise how much I love short novels — those unintimidating, pencil-thick volumes which say: "Pick me up. I won't take up too much of your time. You could read me over (a longish) breakfast." The Outsider, A Clockwork Orange, The Great Gatsby, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Clarice Lispector's The Hour of the Star, The Old Man and the Sea and Of Mice and Men all barely break the 100-page barrier. The last three don't even do that.When they're this good, short novels come close to perfection in a manner for which longer novels are simply not equipped. Big, sprawling novels are glorious precisely because they're allowed to run riot.
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