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February 05, 2015


Canadian Apprentice

I guess 'Lord of the Rings' is cheating?


I was going to respond here but ended up writing a whole blog post of my own. It's a favourite subject :)

Barry Knister

Question: how can any book that is twenty to forty percent too long--by Donna Tartt or anyone else--be "magnificent"?


Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

Susan Newby

My favorite book of 2014 kept me turning all 800 pages through several nights . . . Greg Iles' Natchez Burning!

Gary Thaden

2666: A Novle by Roberto Bolaño

Susan Newby

Both "Natchez Burning" and "The Bone Tree" by Greg Iles are worth every second invested!

Helen DeWitt

Armadale is apparently 752 pages long in the Penguin Classics edition. I love Collins for his preposterous plots, which do seem to require length to achieve their full convoluted glory - and Armadale is also lavish in development of the witty, villainous Lydia Gwilt. So I'm not sure abbreviation would have improved it. But we don't seem to see many witty villains in fiction these days, and perhaps an editor would feel obliged to discourage ludicrous plots.

Michael Mullins

"Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie.

"The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco

While "Les Misérables" could have used a trim, at over 1400 pages, a good tightening would still have left that WELL over 500 pages without a word wasted.

Ditto "Gravity's Rainbow."

And Zadie Smith's "On Beauty" was only 450, but I wouldn't have minded a little padding.

If the characters jump of the page and the narrative grabs you, why would you want the ride to be shorter? Of these, of course, only the Eco even remotely qualifies as a mystery, so perhaps different genres need different things from writers. I lust for a long book capable of doing what those listed above were capable of doing: They enthralled.

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