Sunday, May 08, 2016
10 Best Long Books
Martin Seay's debut novel, The Mirror Thief, is a true delight in the Cloud Atlas mold: a time-jumping epic that's part ominous modern thriller, part supernatural mystery, part enchanting historical adventure. Seay, whose book clocks in at 592 pages, picks 10 other long books worth the investment.
It seems that I have written a long novel.
People regard this as something worthy of comment, and I get that. During the years I was working on it, when I’d report my expanding page-count to friends, their reactions were often strikingly similar to ones I once got by announcing my plan to drive a twelve-year-old Hyundai Elantra from Cape Cod to the Pacific Northwest: surprise, doubt, concern. (“Really? Oh man. Good luck with that.”)
Maybe it’s just because I misspent my junior-high years plowing through the orientalist doorstoppers of James Clavell, but 600 pages doesn’t seem all that long, particularly for a novel like mine, with plotlines unspooling in different times and places. I think it’s possible to make too much of the wow-that’s-a-long-book phenomenon; we’ve all encountered hulking bricks that we zip through in a few underslept days, as well as wispy volumes that turn out to be dwarf-star dense. Successful books take the space they need.
In fact, every era provides examples of novels that succeed commercially and/or artistically despite—no, because of!—their girth. What follows is my list of the best of the bunch. The usual list disclaimer applies doubly here: I can’t claim to have made a complete survey of the field, because these books are long, y’all, and I’m only one man. (A note on terminology: I have defined “long novel” as “longer than mine.”) MORE