Even when or if it arrives, the probability that it will be crowded and unpleasant to ride increases. Of course, in the real world sometimes a torrent of delayed buses arrive all at once and misery is avoided. Curious if any of you have read one of my favorite long novels scandalously out of print Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. Not as heavy as Rainbow or the Recognitions both of which I had great pleasure reading but a great book nonetheless. Mark OConnell makes use of the condition, Stockholm Syndrome, too lightly. His meandering from work to work does little to shore up his postulation.
Page counts do not make a disease. Trying to prove it, or rather make it fit, does speak certainly to an ill-conceived, sophomoric paper in dire need of direction and facts. Indeed OConnell has had the Syndrome work in reverse on him, slaved to his postulation that this disease claims its victim at the what thresold? Is it six, seven or eight-hundred pages? OConnell must constant identify with his theory, but looking in it is a flawed bit of pseudo-psychologically. I enjoyed this essay, thanks.
They are punishing to the mind and body, but there are rewards to look forward to, and I appreciate the humorous, and probably accurate, analogy to the Stockholm Syndrome. However, Ulysses and marathons still seem like torture! I do agree that people have the tendency to over praise novels of great length once theyve finished them, mistaking their conquering of the text as literary achievement. Though I will say some of my favorite books are bricks of over pages.
I think the Bolano quote is dead on. One of the reasons people myself included feel so strongly about lengthy tomes is that they have seen real battle, an author extending themselves to their limits, and often beyond, wrestling with those big important questions. The battle cant be confined to a quaint exercise of pages. It has to shed blood over dozens of stories, digressions, set pieces, and asides. One has to give merit to the author who is daring enough to put themselves through the mental anguish of committing to such an endeavor. I love the casual anti-intellectualism that attempts to pass as a more refined sensibility in this article.
I figure after 1, pages of Samuel Richardson, pages of Joyce will be like climbing a couple flights of stairs. Anyone else love these books? But to be honest, I mostly loved the whole of the novel and consider it the peak experience of my reading life. A novel? The what?
The Recognitions? Mostly talk, talk, talk. But one can hardly. Someday soon I hope to read the complete Tale of Genji. Wish me luck. Also this essay reminds me, whatever happened to your series called Difficult Books? I thought it was a wonderful idea, and the earlier pieces were stellar. Is this project dead or will there be further entries? I plan to give it another go at some point. What a hoot. Or it ought to be. Long books, like love, are surrendered to, not overcome. I remember a wonderful essay about this, years ago.
I loved this! The Russians were the best at stuffing great stories into short books, the kind a shallow mind like mine can enjoy. They also wrote the biggest books the world has ever seen but what do you expect when some of the greatest writers ever are jammed together in the same country? Years later I picked it up, started climbing, and can still see that majestic, surreal panorama of the modern world from my window. These were all great reads. Were the doctors really trying to cure anyone?
Were they purposely trying to make people sick for the money? Were they well intentioned but incompetent? Was I supposed to figure this out, or was this all supposed to be left up in the air? It felt like The Village in The Prisoner. But at least there I had someone to root for, and a reason to root for him. Franzen, on the other hand, was definitely a case of Stockholm Syndrome. This article was way too long. Do you have any shorter articles that get the general point across that I can read?
The Stockholm Syndrome analogy is apt because the overall artistic project of the long-winded author is indeed evil and indulgent, despite refreshing moments of cogency. There are brilliant short novels which are intellectually awe-inspiring precisely because they manage to say something in a reasonable amount of space.
I want to not party with you, cowboy. This is a terrific article. Enjoyed it for being concise. For several busy years I avoided long books and got in the habit of reading novels of pages or fewer. However, last month I read The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall, pages and was hooked till the end, so much so that I finished it in a week.
Once I became disabused of this notion, my reading dropped off precipitously — correlation or causation? Who is Mark OConnell???
Anna Karenina took ten days to read while on a teeny-tiny island with no electricity in the Andaman Sea Vronsky never did it for me though — I preferred Levin — I know, heresy. I did the same thing the following year with Vanity Fair in Cambodia admittedly not really a scary volume.
I was so sad for it to be over when it was. I agree with Emma about the importance of removing distractions in order to concentrate. I could never get started on book 1 which has an awful lot of Scottish dialect. However I took the book when called to jury duty and by lunchtime I knew that I had to go get the second one in case I finished it. Whatever little little! This was funny and excellent.
Although I doubt there are many people who feel a sense of achievement upon dying. Thanks for mentioning A Suitable Boy, Allison, it was the first book that popped into my head when I read this piece. Less for it being a struggle it was an undiluted pleasure for me, all pages, though I know some of my friends blank out the political bits than for its meta-level discussion of reading long books. Mark bis : Understood! Althoud I do admit that I did not think you would go so far, and although my question was rhetorically inspired, to say the least, I do feel that many people would truly mean that: that all lengthy books are alike every short book is short in its own way?
Did it affect my reading experience? Just to say I was able to? I love the guy, but the shortcomings of his fiction, as well as his strengths, are with you on every page. Maybe the obsessiveness of these writers makes us feel we owe it to them to hear them out at whatever length. I really did feel like a prisoner of the book. She said her solution was to literally break the book into six sections — pulling the paperback copy apart five times — so that it appeared she was reading six individual short novels.
I have to admit, I only got halfway through these comments before I threw the iPad across the room. When do you know enough is enough? When a book is boring or too long, what kind of justifcation do you use to keep yourself going?
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If you do go on, that is. In my experience, it usually takes about 50 pages for me to know whether the book is interesting enough to keep reading. But the idea of not being able to finish a book and the idea of giving up after only 50 pages conflicts with my reader pride. It shames me to admit that I could not finish a book because it was too, uhm, boring or too long. The psychological work that goes into forcing oneself to finish a boring book is something worth investigating.
Stud piece. Really speaks to the relationship between readers and the work, what a reader feels like he gets out of a piece as opposed to what he is , and both the shared indulgence and brilliance of authors writing for themselves as opposed to others. It just doesnt grab me. Andrei Platonov. Ulysses is cocky. It is too long, too wtf boring. DFW is too boring, too smarmy, too sure of his gifts. There are other writers who write loong and short books, short stories, whatever and , without fireworks or the current trick, relay a story, talk life and death into ones famished cells and lonely soul.
Though he used to teach in Catalonia. And I thought he was a philosophy professor. This article brought back some fond memories of my reading life. I read Rememberance of Times Past in German my native language when I was in my early twenties, got through it but did not enjoy it. What a different experience though, during one long summer, reading the same book in English when I was in my thirties! Just seen this. Yes, the pleasure of the reading journey is somehow multiplied by the sense of time passed. Next — more new ground.
A novel by a woman writer? The next, Of Human Bondage, was long, and I finished it—enough said. So, I just let it go—let myself down, and cowardly went off in the corner to stare at myself in the reflection of a shop window. Great article, philosophical and funny at the same time. Not a single woman. Not a single POC.
The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
As soon as I saw that, I bailed. MattV and The Author. Along with that of the redoubtable Nick Moran, the brightest, wittiest, and sharpest pen at The Millions. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.
Stockholm Delete By Jens Lapidus: A Thrilling Page-Turner
Learn how your comment data is processed. Sure, go ahead and sniff that. But of course, stop and stare at this if you like. Why not lie down in the middle of the street and refuse to budge? Who am I to disrupt these principled protests of a Bartlebyesque nature? I am generally happy to wait patiently for forward progress to resume, though I often yearn for some distraction during these lulls.
One morning, heading out for a walk, a bright idea came to me. I could combine my two passions: standing idle beside my dog, alert or prostrate as she may be, and reading. More terrifying, it could simply be an act of motiveless malignity. When a year-old boy is raped and murdered in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.
Here, plain as day, was our dog poisoner. I was consequently on edge, looking up from my reading every time the basset burrowed her snout into some fresh, and potentially poisoned, filth. They knew my dog but neither my name nor, depressingly, my face. When my stepbrother dog-sat for me last summer, he told me that the owners of Argus and Molly, two women whom I saw on a daily basis, had approached him in the park and begun chatting with him quite familiarly. After several minutes, he realized that they had simply spotted the basset hound and assumed the indistinct mass on the other end of her leash was the usual walker, that is, me.
My stepbrother felt duty-bound to enlighten them. At the very least, they would be able to identify one another in a lineup.
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She is plagued by suburban ennui and intermittent bouts of dread, usually accompanied by spectral visions of a prowling dog. Talmudic references mixed with mediations on the aerodynamics of the knuckleball. A visiting academic, she walks her dog in billowing caftans and turns out to be conducting a sociological study on Littlefield. There are other characters of varying eccentricity, each of whom I found infinitely more appealing than the married couple I soon bumped into near the center of the park.
At the sight of my basset, their French bulldog strained at the leash. John Ajvide Lindqvist has said that the one concept he wanted to use in his novel from the start was that of using two ghosts driving around on a moped and speaking in The Smiths quotes.
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