Thursday, 5 February 2009

The short of it

Okay, so I'm really really close to finishing my novel, and have decided to drop the Dalmation island WWII back story I had going on. This will bring the book in at around 200pp. Pretty short, huh. I was a little bit worried about this, and then I found this site, to which I'm very grateful. Okay, so only a few books under the general fiction list were published this century, but I won't let that deter me. I like reading short novels, and it appears I also can't write anything that isn't one. Maybe I should look for a French publisher rather than a British one? They don't seem to have a problem with little books, and my novel would probably come out longer in French.

Help ease my pain, tell me your favourite novels of around 200pp, better still if the author's not been dead for more than twenty years or so.


Anonymous said...

Being able to write a short novel is an uncommon skill, Aliya. Pat yourself on the back!

My favourite short novel is 'A Life's Music' by Maxim Gorky. Or is it I Am Legend? Hmm...


Tim Stretton said...

Here are some good 'uns

Muriel Spark:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Jack Vance:
Space Opera
The Dying Earth
---many more

Jeffrey Eugenides:
The Virgin Suicides

Aliya Whiteley said...

S'not me, Ian. It's Neil this time. Although short novels are my forte too, it's true. Dan Rhodes writes short, doesn't he? Drew Gummerson's Me and Mickie James wasn't long, and that was deeply ace.

Short is the new long.

Frances said...

The Sea (short-listed for the Booker prize, though I have to say I'm not sure why)? Christmas Carol? Catcher in the Rye? And that horrible horrible (but awfully successful) book by Josephine Hart - Damage? I think you're in pretty good company, Neil!

drew said...

Etgar Keret, one of my favourite writers, has a short book coming out this year - Knellers Happy Campers

Ian McEwan's Chesil Beach, of course.

George Saunders, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

Andrew Kaufman - All My Friends are Superheroes.

Fup - Jim Dodge

Haruki Murakami - After Dark

And thanks for the mention Aliya - Me and Mickie James, 70,000 words.

Neil said...

Thanks. Phew, so there's some hope.

I've noticed a running theme with the successful literary short novels: they are all by established writers.

Drew, Murakami's odd, in that his short novels seem to feel reallllly long and his long ones, rather briefer. One of my favourite contemporary authors also writes very short books: Andrei Makine, but most of these books have something else in common, none of them feel too short. Here's hoping I've pulled it off. And, Ian, you're on the early list of readers, if that's okay. I think I'll be lucky to hit 60k by the time it's done.

Fup. What an intriguing title for a book.

Thanks, all.

Sam Hayes said...

Doh. I was going to say 'On Chesil Beach'. But of course there's 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' (as in the list Neil linked to). Only my all-time fave most amazing life-changing book ever written. Yes, short rocks. God. My last delivered novel was 140k words!

Drew said...

Fup, is about a duck. Fup duck - get it? It's a great little book.

I loved After Dark, and although not a novel, but very short, Murakami's latest - What We Talk About When We Talk About Running. This is a book about writing, as well as running.

David Isaak said...

"Grendel" by John Gardner...though he's been dead since the early 1980s. The Beowulf story from the monster's POV. (He's an existentialist.)

"Amsterdam," my favorite book by Ian McEwan. Charmingly mean-spirited. And recent.

"Come Closer" by Sara Gran. One of the great little horror novels. Also recent. In addition, see Sara Gran's "Dope," a slim little peice of noir.

"Tideland" by Mitch Cullin. Terry Gilliam made a movie of this one.

I wish I could write short. Fr that matter I wish I could write short stories. Or short blog posts.

Neil said...

Cement Garden and Heart of Darkness were both very, very short (around 144 pages). I feel a little more confident in length not being as much of an issue after investigating this a bit. Of course, that's ignoring the fact that someone has to like the content too.