Too many words
While it is obvious to anyone that there are already too many books in the world, I am coming to the conclusion that many of them are too long as well. I have been trying to get to the end of Rick Moody's The Diviners for three months now, and although I am enjoying the stampeding nature of his writing, there is simply too much of it.
A small piece in the Daily Telegraph (8 April) shows that I am not alone. A man called Mike Furrow is advocating that we should turn over the pages of books two at a time, saving ourselves valuable hours and not losing much in the process. He also wants to ban enormous books like War and Peace (which I remember Linus from the Peanuts cartoon strip reading - he 'bleeped over' all the complicated names).
He has a point, although I'm not sure about the banning bit.
Alternatively, maybe we should all read shorter books. A few recent titles spring to mind:
The Short Day Dying by Peter Hobbs
The Lion and the Tiger by Denis Judd
And what about short-story collections? Again, some recent titles:
The Hill Road by Patrick O'Keeffe
I Could Ride All Day on My Cool Blue Train by Peter Hobbs
And some forthcoming ones:
George Saunders' The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil
Thomas McGuane's Gallatin Canyon
And what about the Very Short Introductions series, published by Oxford University Press?
Books like these are brilliantly written and concise; they also look good and are desirable objects in their own right. Perfect wallpaper, and more likely to be read as well.
Having said that, I still intend to read all 641 pages of Richard Ford's forthcoming The Lay of the Land, his third book about American everyman Frank Bascombe. Oh well.