Months ago, or maybe even years, the Vodo and I had a conversation about books. It went something like this:
Vodo: I only read short stories.
Vodo: It’s what I write. I just feel like each one has so much I can learn from.
Me: You’re a whack-job loony, novels are the bomb.
While I will not back down from my stance that novels are indeed the bomb, I have to admit I am beginning to see the allure of never reading anything but short stories. I don’t know what it is, but of the four or so novels I’ve started actually reading (as opposed to listening to) the last three months I’ve finished exactly one. That was Milan Kundera’s underwhelming Ignorance. A book I finished merely because I wanted to discuss its underwhelmingness at Rock & Roll Bookclub. Kundera could have gone a long way had actually made a decision about whether he was writing a book of essays or a novel.
However, in the same three months, I have managed to polish off six entire short story collections. Some of them were stunningly good (Jean Thompson’s Throw Like a Girl) and some of them surprisingly disappointing (Joy Williams’ Honored Guest), and yet when I turn to the reading pile I still pick a book of short stories.
At first I chalked up this unusual reading behavior to a desire to harken back to my roots after cheating on my beloved short stories by taking a
bullshit poetry class. It was as though I had cheated on my writing form of choice by reading all that fancy poetry.
bullshit poetry class has been over for weeks and I still haven’t managed to find my way back to the novel. I’ve decided to chalk it up to my lack of patience regarding virtually everything lately. Novels seem to have this irritating problem about getting to the point, and lately I have no time to dick around waiting for the point.
I’m hoping once the slow, leisurely pace of autumn arrives I will find my way back to the novel, because as much as I am enjoying the one night stands of the short story I kind of miss the substantive relationship only a novel can give me.