There’s no way of saying this without innuendo…

Does size matter? Where novels are concerned, I mean. Unless you’re using it as a doorstop, the number of pages in a book shouldn’t really be related to its quality, right? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s read stupendously long novels that were unputdownable and skimpy volumes that seemed like a total waste of my time.

I guess when something is good (like my favourite novel, Don Quixote, or War and Peace) you never want it to end. But British author Ian McEwan (who wrote another of my favourite novels, Atonement) made the case to the BBC last week that shorter is better and that American authors in particular apparently feel the irresistible need to plonk a hefty tome down on their editor’s desk. Blam! “There it is. Another Great American Novel. And don’t you dare cut it down…”

War and Peace and Bull_20140905_225341

My copy of War and Peace next to my latest, considerably shorter, literary opus.


McEwan makes a good point about how enjoying an entire novel at one sitting leads to a similar sense of satisfaction as watching a great movie. His newest book, The Children Act, is about 55,000 words long, even shorter than the first draft of my sequel to Silent Symmetry, Starley’s Rust. I’m therefore in good company. And I firmly believe that when it comes to The Great American Young Adult Novel, shorter is sweeter. What do you guys think?

Click here to read the full article on Ian McEwan’s BBC interview, as it appeared in the Daily Telegraph.


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