Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book 17: Length in Novels.

I have no problems reading novels that are lengthy. If I had a problem with length, then I never would have made it through the Outlander series in 2009. There are other big works of fiction that I also hold dear to my heart, like the Harry Potter books. Their length helps rather than hinders the story, so I have no problem reading them.

I also love short books. I like being able to sit down and go through an entire story in one sitting lasting an hour or so, as long as the story is told well. Two of the books I have already read for my odyssey have been short novellas-Ethan Frome and The Old Man and the Sea. Both of those novellas were well done; the characters were developed, the plot was detailed enough, and the story left me thinking.

So it really bothers me when the scope of a work does not fit with the length. Simple plots and characters don't need as much time to develop as elaborate schemes. Harry Potter condensed into 7 300 page books would be a completely different story. The world that J.K. Rowling created would not be as deep or detailed.

In reading Sons and Lovers, I am finding that I am annoyed with Lawrence's use of page space and how the story is developing. To be quite honest, the first 50 or so pages have nothing to do with the rest of the story. Yes, the description of his mother and father and their early life does provide nice background, but it could have been given in another way. And while I appreciate that Lawrence is setting up the character of Paul Morel and his relationship to his mother, I find it completely aggravating. There is too much language and too much exposition for my tastes.

(I am not saying that I don't enjoy description, because I do, but I hate when the description is overbearing. On with the story, you know?)

And since my edition of Sons and Lovers is 370 pages long, there is a lot of time that I know will be wasted trucking through Lawrence's description and what he deems to be important to the story. I am hoping that when it is finished I will feel differently, but I don't think I will.

It is incredibly hard to like a book that drags on and on with only little spurts of excitement. Dull and monotonous writing bores the reader and this reader is bored with Lawrence. I really hate to be so negative, especially towards a book that I had high hopes for, but I can't help it.

Mind, this is not as bad as when I had to force myself through Great Expectations, but this is still pretty bad.

I know I cannot force myself to like a book and I know there will be other books on this list that I will also dislike for various reasons. Obviously not everything will appeal to me and I have been lucky so far that I have enjoyed pretty much everything I've read, but let me ask you this; Why are all the books I dislike the longest ones? It sure seems like they are!

So here are some questions for you, dear readers:
  1. What length of book do you prefer and why?
  2. Are there books you have avoided because of their length? If so, what titles?
Thanks, and happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. I read a roughly 50/50 mix of fiction and non-fiction. I will read much longer fiction books than non-fiction titles. For non-fiction, I usually like to top out at about 300 pages, unless I'm extremely interested in the topic. I've been specifically putting off The Hemingses of Monticello because it is a whopping 800 pages.