Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Moment in the Sun

I'm usually suspicious of massive new books--most writers who take 800 or 900 pages to tell a story usually do so in an incredibly undisciplined way, and if they weren't so self-indulgent (and had better editors) they could comfortably shave several hundred pages off and have a better book. After all, there aren't many writers who really have the talent to pull off a The Man Without Qualities or a Middlemarch.

However, one upcoming book has certainly got my interest: it's a 968-page novel by filmmaker John Sayles, who has previous form as a novelist. McSweeney's is putting it out (hopefully it's one of their excellent books, rather than one of their infuriating ones), and so has their traditional amazing production values. It looks like a massive, beautiful brick of a book. (Click the first image for a massive version, or the third for a less massive version not obscured by a sticker). The designer is as yet unknown.




The first four chapters were excerpted in an issue of the McSweeney's magazine, in a nice-looking chapbook format:


I always find excerpts like this a bit pointless (hence my dislike of Granta magazine, where half of the fiction always seems to be bits of upcoming novels, rather than stand-alone stories)--if the work is good, you want the whole book, and if it's not, you don't want to read any of it. I know that in this case it's a promotional tool more than anything else, but that doesn't stop me having a whinge.

14 comments:

Eliz said...

Pretty sure the main purpose is promotion. I read The Children's Hospital because of a McSweeney's excerpt.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

well, the lettering is very nice. Could NEVER read a book that big, but would certainly love it on my shelf.

JRSM said...

Eliz, I have the Children's Hospital, but haven't tackled it yet--another HUGE but attractive book.

Ian: I suspect I'll order it and have it on the shelves for ages before I gird my loins enough to actually read it.

Covey said...

Artist's name... tip of tongue...

Anonymous said...

Aaron Horkey I'm sure is the artist...pretty amazing work all round

Hence72 said...

beautiful typography

Covey said...

Aaron Horkey. I would bet that too. He just gets so much damn WEIGHT into that otherwise lilting ornamentation.

Craig D. said...

968 pages? There should be a federal law requiring writers to read one novel each by Dick, Hammett, and Highsmith before their own work is published.

Allan Lorde said...

Yeah, that's Horkey, without a doubt. No one does it better. I've been hanging around gigposters.com and OMGPosters long enough to recogzine his work.

matthew. said...

My local bookstores are both saying this book is only 600 pages. Plus, the artwork they're using is bizarre. Does anyone know when this book is actually coming out? I'm terribly excited for this

JRSM said...

April 29 is the date, according to McSweeney's, and both they and Publisher's Weekly are confirming the near-1000-page count.

JRSM said...

All you clever people who guessed Aaron Horkey were right: see the newest post for more.

Levi Stahl said...

What's interesting about this book to me is that Sayles went through a very public search for a publisher, claiming in one article (if I remember correctly) that he couldn't find anyone willing to publish it.

I know it's 968 pages long, and Sayles isn't exactly a household name, but that still surprised me; he's far from a nobody.

JRSM said...

That seems bizarre--he even has a track record as a novelist and story writer, too. Still he seems to have ended up with a publisher who is doing him proud.