Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books! And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!
It's another cold and rainy day in Connecticut! We are even expecting hail this afternoon! So it makes for a perfect day to curl up with a good book. The problem with that is, which good book? I want to read a really good book, but I don't want to start a really long book. I just want a quickie! So, what's a girl to do? Find a really good NOVELLA!
What is a novella? Personally, I think of a novella as around 200 pages. And the novella's I've read lately have been very satisfying. Recently I read Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky, at 132 pages it was perfect. And Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, which won a Nebula award this year, and weighed in at 90 pages, was wonderful! These short novels have to have all the luster of a full length novel but with the constraints of fewer words. From the outside, this seems to be harder to write. Do novellas have the same respect as their bigger brothers and sisters? I know short story collections don't, but haven't heard much about the relationship of novella's and readers. It seems that there are a lot of books I pick up these days that fit the bill as a novella. Are authors starting to turn their talents to shorter works?
Let me tell you about 5 books on my Novella Radar...
All Yours by Claudia Pineiro... Ines is convinced that every wife is bound to be betrayed one day, so she is not surprised to find a note in her husband Ernesto’s briefcase with a heart smeared in lipstick crossed by the words “All Yours” and signed, “Your true love.” She follows him to a park on a rainy winter evening and witnesses a violent quarrel he has with another woman. The woman collapses; Ernesto sinks her body in a nearby lake. When Ernesto becomes a suspect in the case she provides him with an alibi. After all, hatred can bring people together as urgently as love. But Ernesto cannot bring his sexual adventures to an end, so Ines concocts a plan for revenge from which there is no return.
This sounds so interesting. I love Spanish writers in general because they generally write very passionately, and what can be more passionate than love, jealousy and revenge?! Under 200 pages, good reviews, and on my
Signs Preceding The End of The World by Yuri Herrara... Yuri Herrera explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back. Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages – one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.
This book and Yuri Herrara have gotten such praise that I knew I HAD to read it. Translated from Spanish, it is the first of three novella's to be translated and published in the United States by And Other Stories. The writing is suppose to be amazing. 107 pages.
The Art of Sinking by Naomi Booth... Some call it the Fainting Game, others Indian Headrush - but it's all the rage amongst the girls of Class 2B. This is the story of Esther, who lives in the Pennines with her father. Esther is obsessed with experimenting with different ways to pass out: from snorting Daz powder at school to attempted autoasphyxiation in a serviced apartment in north London. But what happens when you take something too far? And what has Esther's mother, a beautiful dancer wasting away in her bedroom, to do with it all? The Lost Art of Sinking is a dark comedy about losing yourself. Sensual, funny and exquisitely written, this bold novella introduces a fresh new literary voice in Naomi Booth. Shortlisted for the MMU Novella Award 2014.
This book reminds be a bit of a coming-of-age story. Naomi Booth has received quite a bit of praise for her lyrical writing and I'm looking forward to reading this. It's 137 pages. Published by Penned in The Margins.
Speedboat by Renata Adler... When members of the National Book Critics Circle were polled to see which book they would most like to see republished, they chose Speedboat—“by far.” This story of a young female newspaper reporter coming of age in New York City was originally published serially in the New Yorker; it is made out of seemingly unrelated vignettes—tart observations distilled through relentless intellect—which add up to an analysis of our brittle, urban existence. It remains as fresh as when it was first published.
This book has a lot of mixed reviews. The style of the book was "new" when it was originally published in 1976 and most of the likes and dislikes of this novella stems from the style, which are like snippets of observations. I read a sample and loved it. The protagonist is suppose to be a journalist, so these snippets are what she see's along the way. Definitely on my TBR list. 192 pages. Published by Harper Perennial.
One Hundred Twenty-One Days by Michele Audin... This debut novel by mathematician and Oulipo member Michèle Audin retraces the lives of French mathematicians over several generations through World Wars I and II. The narrative oscillates stylistically from chapter to chapter—at times a novel, fable, historical research, or a diary—locking and unlocking codes, culminating in a captivating, original reading experience
This novella has received so many great reviews I have to read it. Some people who reviewed it were actually unable to really describe it and just left it at "read this!". Due to its' unusual format, I think this may be a love hate think similar to Renata Adler's book above. 155 pages. Published by Deep Vellum. On my TBR list!
What's also interesting about 4 of the 5 books here, is that they are all published by publishers I am not familiar with. Smaller houses (Indie publishers?) that may be looking at fresh talent from different sources.
Of course, there are plenty of classics that fall into the "Novella" category... Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (I loved this book!), The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote to name just a few. (Although not a classic, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is a GREAT read and is only 218 pages).
Question... If you had a choice of reading 5 great novellas or 1 great novel, which would you choose?
What do you think about novella's? Although I love a good hefty novel to sink my teeth into, sometimes it's just as nice to read something in a sitting or two. Read any good novella's lately?! I'd love to hear about them! Share them right here!
Happy reading... Suzanne