Tag Archives: Bleak House

A Necessary Return to the Long Novel?

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@Borisk (Boris Kachka) over at vulture.com has come up with some rather hefty books he thinks we should all read. Entitled “26 Very Long Books Worth the Time They’ll Take to Read,” the list for me includes some obvious choices (Don Quixote, War and Peace, A Suitable Boy), some I’ve been meaning to read for years (Infinite Jest, Bleak House, The Stand), some surprises (Middlemarch [yawn], 1Q84 [The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was a much “bigger” book, if a much smaller published work]), and some I simply have to disagree with (Life and Fate, Underworld).

Still, on this day of reflection, I can’t help but wonder if our collective blasé/anti-establishment/angry mood couldn’t best be tempered by a serious sit-down with a tome heavy enough to buoy a ship in stormy weather and insightful enough to make us actually “think” (yes, it’s in quotation marks).

As Kachka points out, “Binge-watching is easy; just drag the laptop into bed and go. But savoring a book of, say, 800 pages or longer is a project.”

Although my book club would draw and quarter me if I suggested it, especially after our last pick, Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice (128 pages), perhaps it is time for all of us to make at least one book a year one of those tomes we’ve been promising ourselves for years we’d read. For me, that starts with what is currently on my bedside table, Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, a paltry 608 pages. I know, I know. Weak. But it’s a start.

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Quote of the Day

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Ah, yes, the Brits. When those wily Britons are not doing maths or enjoying some ice lollies on lifts or in lorries, they have a special ability to craftily intertwine sexes into their literatures. Who would have thunk that the hoity-toity label often attached to many classic British authors could have been a ruse! Deep down, they just have a more refined way of scintillating the loins, as evidenced in these doozies below.

“Sir Leicester leans back in his chair, and breathlessly ejaculates, ‘Good heaven!'” Bleak House, Charles Dickens

“All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I’d sooner go to my dentist any day.” Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh

“Fanny rode on a lion and felt very grand. Dick chose a horse.” The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

“Let us toss as men do.” Far from the Maddening Crowd, Thomas Hardy

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