Friday, May 29, 2009

Really Good, Short Novels

It seems that too many novels are too long by as much as 200 pages. Often those pages aren't without interest, and if--like the author--you find the narrative voice of the novel compelling in itself, you will not mind the lengthy anecdotes, detailed descriptions, and irrelevant digressions, but sometimes you want a well-written, short book, one that you can finish easily within the Library's 3-week check out period.

Our latest blogs have been about male authors, so these authors are all women. The six titles listed are recommended by myself, friends, and coworkers.

Good, short novels, recently published, at APL

The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Muriel Barbery 325 pp
Wry and erudite tale of a middle-aged French concierge named Rene, who hides her hard-won self-education in the humanities from her building's wealthy tenants, astutely comments on class, presumption and power.

The Great Man. Kate Christensen 320 pp
Scintillating comedy of life among the art avant-garde.

Lark and Termite. Jayne Ann Phillips. 272 pp
Lyrical novel about sibling love is narrated by four characters and set during the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name. Vendela Vida. 226 pp
The hunt for her biological father—and the resumption of a search for her mother who left when Clarissa was 14—lead Clarissa to mystical Lapland.

Life Class Pat Barker 320 pp
Explores the impact of World War I on three student artists in England.

Ms Hempel Chronicles. Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. 208 pp
Funny, masterfully written, collection of eight interconnected stories about Beatrice Hempel, a middle school English teacher who is full of both hope and insecurity on the brink of confident adulthood, and despite feeling disenchanted with her job, she regards her students as intelligent and fascinating.

Olive Kitteridge. Elizabeth Strout. 304 pp
Thirteen linked tales with themes of suicide, depression, poor communication, aging and love, revolve around Olive Kitteridge, a

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