random books / long books (1 Viewer)

Nate Champion

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I just finished 'Frog' by Stephen Dixon.

That's the longest Dixon book. Well, there's Interstate.

He's more regarded as a short fiction writer.

Clocks in at 769 pages.

Not the usual American po-mo dick-stroking business. Not po-mo, but perhaps lumped in with U.S left-of-field fiction out of convenience for publishers and reviewers alike.

If I was to glibly write a soundbite for Frog, I might write, "Imagine George Costanza trapped in the mind of a vaguely experimental, yet formally committed, American novel being pinged around by his own shallow urges and hyperactive, juvenile imagination."

Readability was high for me. It drags you along. Most of it is pretty manageable switching between interiority, in-the-moment reflecting on what he just said/thought, with pages on end of dialogue interchanges mostly in one never-ending block with no paragraph breaks.

The clincher is whether you will find it funny. He builds in his own shortcomings as a writer and has a serious fetish for typos. It can be tedious, though I feel that's all part of what he's trying to do in this particular novel.

But there are no dense descriptive passages or utterly "drop your weapons" ornery prose you might get in some American stuff.
 
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billygannon

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Middlemarch is a great long book. I'm not sure I'll read a better English novel. It's one I intend to revisit throughout the rest of my life.

I know it's all about country life in early 1830's England, but George Eliot really set the standard for novels.
 

Lili Marlene

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How long is Middlemarch?

I remember being shocked at how into Silas Marner (which is not that long) I got as a teenager but i've never revisited her stuff. I defo should.
 

Lili Marlene

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I think it worked as an antidode to whatever was on the leaving cert for me. My brother must have done it for his leaving because there's no way my house would just have a 19th century classic knocking about.
 

billygannon

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How long is Middlemarch?

I remember being shocked at how into Silas Marner (which is not that long) I got as a teenager but i've never revisited her stuff. I defo should.
It's about 800/900 pages long.

When I was younger I thought it was just one of those English 19th Century novels - which it is, but it's also not.
Basically Eliot has as much in common with Proust or Flaubert than she does with Dickens or Thackeray.
When she wrote it, she was considered the greatest novelist working in the English language at the time.

She's a fascinating person and I think she was well ahead of her time.

There's nothing especially dramatic in Middlemarch. It's all about relationships and country life. Eliot weaves about six stories in to one: it's a magnificent "state of the nation" novel. I read somewhere that Eliot had a limited amount of paper to write on, so she treated each page carefully. It's like every line has been thoroughly thought through. The pacing of the chapters is perfect and the way she moves from a philosophical musing to a real-life encounter is done brilliantly, and effortlessly. Most of all, Eliot is very considerate about her readers - it's clear she's written something with the average reader (of her day) in mind.

Basically... it's the gold standard of novels. Of course there are many others which play with the novel format and do very clever things - and there are lots of fantastic novels which precede it, but Middlemarch is the standard.
 

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