The year of the mega-novel

Franzen's new novel, a mere 576 pages
Franzen’s new novel, a mere 576 pages

In the Independent today, Alice Jones says that this year is going to be the year of the mega-novel. Jones is not entirely happy with this, and is still struggling with The Luminaries and has given up on Middlemarch. Having read and enjoyed both and also enjoyed A Suitable Boy, which she also mentions, I am looking forward to this. One new novel she does not mention is Mark Danielewski‘s The Familiar, volume 1, already out weighing in at 880 pages and volume 2, out in October, also weighing in at 880 pages. His House of Leaves, which I have read, was a paltry 709 pages. I plan to get round to volume 1 of The Familiar in the next few weeks and, if I enjoy it, will read volume 2 when it comes out. Unlike Alice Jones, I very much like a good mega-novel though I do not like bad ones such as that five-volume epic by that Norwegian guy and I did not really like that three volume one about the kid who takes on the forces of evil, with the help of Ian McKellen and I have not even looked at GoT, film, TV or book. But give me a good literary one, such as a Donna Tartt novel and I am happy. Good reading this summer, long or short.

11 thoughts on “The year of the mega-novel”

  1. I’ve never read Franzen, but people I trust say don’t go near his work, so I won’t be rushing to try this… I do like big books though, so I’m in the middle of ‘The Tale of Genji’ at the moment.

    Still waiting for ‘A Suitable Girl’ to appear – hurry up Mr. Seth 😉

    • I can understand people’s reluctance over Franzen but you should read one, probably The Corrections. Yes, the Chinese and Japanese classics are brilliant. The rumour is that SG will appear next year but don’t hold your breath.

  2. Despite the page count, the Danielewski novel isn’t that long as he’s up to his usual tricks with some pages having very little text. If all the text of the 1st volume of The Unfamiliar were condensed, it would be about 300 pages I guess. Now, the forthcoming Vollmann does look intimidating, but I’ll have to read the previous books of his Seven Dreams series first. Incidentally, I’ve just finished reading a true meganovel that I would like to review, but it will take a while as this monstrosity is so rich it requires some time to wrap your hand around it. I haven’t been so shell-shocked since I read Gravity’s Rainbow.

    • You are right about the Danielewski. Page count is certainly an imperfect way of judging length but I am damned if I am going to count the words. Of course, Leopardi’s Zibaldone was a mere 2592 pages and, doubtless if you count the Norwegian’s five volume thing, it won’t be much less. Even for me, life is too short for either. I shall look forward to reading your review of the unspecified meganovel. По-русски?


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