The ultra-long novel is making a comeback – what does this say about us as readers?Big books are dominating this year’s book festival. David Peace’s 720-page Red or Dead made a big impression at his event here, and Eleanor Catton’s even bigger The Luminaries (832 pages), and Richard House’s The Kills (1002 pages) have both been longlisted for the Man Booker prize as well.The novel has always liked length, of course. From Samuel Richardson’s Pamela onwards, through the 18th and 19th centuries until the strike of modernism in the early 20th, when the telling of stories became a more tenuous, uncertain business, writers have tended towards the fat doorstopper rather than the slim volume. So big books are hitting the bookshelves again; what’s new?Well, the economics behind the trend might have something to with it. Recessionary times prefer spectacle to introspection – look at those Busby Berkeley musicals of the 30s Depression – and a big novel has the added status of literature above simple entertainment. It keeps us thinking that, despite the diversionary tactics of size and showmanship we’re OK, still thinking.And big books build confidence, too, a feeling a look-at-me can-do’ism – no surprise that it s a …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books