Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Altered histories and the novella's comeback
The thing is that sometime around the late 1980′s publishers seemed to drop short novels from their lists as if the number of pages equated with value for money. Of course this was stupid – a story has a natural length whether it is fifty pages of five hundred pages but the high and mighty publishing industry didn’t see it that way and the result was that many books were padded out in order to extend a story, best told in 200 pages, into 500+ pages. And King has often been as guilty of padding out his books as anyone else, but it mustn’t be forgotten that King has written some excellent longer works – It, The Stand, Salem’s Lot to name but a few of a long list.
“King’s next book, due out in November, will be titled 11/22/63 – the date Kennedy was shot dead while travelling in an open-topped presidential limousine in Dallas, Texas – and will feature a time-travelling Maine schoolteacher, Jake Epping, who tries to prevent the killing.” From The Guardian Newspaper.
Today I bought King’s new book 11/22/63 – priced up at £19.99 I got in in W H Smith’s for £9.99 - part of a special offer. The books comes in at 700 plus pages and also features a tantalizingly snippet of news regarding a new Dark Tower book to be published next spring, and it’s a safe bet that readers will get a hernia lugging it around. The current wisdom is that the novella is making a comeback, but Stephen King is in a position where he doesn’t need to follow the leader and can be true to himself as an artist, can craft a story without considering market trends.
And so as I sit down to read King’s new mammoth tome, let’s hope the story warrants the length.