Tagged: #NovNov

Novellas in November 2014: Introduction

If you’ve been browsing round the bookish internet lately, you’ve probably heard a lot about what you should be reading in November:

Obviously these bloggers are all wrong. How can November be for anything other than Novellas? Alliteration doesn’t lie.

Last year, I had a blast reading classic and contemporary novellas all month. I even made a video. Maybe this year I’ll do one as a wrap up? It’s unlikely, now that I know what good book videos look like.

Anyway, on to my novellas!

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  1. Tumble Home by Amy Hempel: based on the review here. “Reading it or any of her work is the surest way I know, besides having/watching a baby, to make life separate into moments.” Okay. Let’s see.
  2. Santa Rosa by Wendy McGrath: local author, local setting, sequel published a week ago, and this month’s #yegbookclub pick. No brainer.
  3. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. My favourite novella last year was Bonjour Tristesse. This is another coming of age story set in France, and 19 pages in I’m already predicting 5 stars.
  4. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore. For the title, obviously.
  5. Varamo by Cesar Aira. He seems to be the guy to read if you like novellas.
  6. Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville. I don’t know what it’s about, but the oft-quoted line “I would prefer not to” really speaks to me.
  7. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving: it’s the current read on Classic Alice. I love Classic Alice even though none of these actors appear to be college age, and despite the fact that Alice and Andrew would have humped by episode 3 in real life. It’s like if Felicity was even more repressed. At least Alice doesn’t wear those awful sweaters.

This year The Wandering Bibliophile is joining in with two impressive towers of novellas. Perhaps the elusive originator of #NovNov will come out of hiding this month!

Please comment below with your novellas recommendations, reading plans, or favourite episodes of Classic Alice or Felicity. I’m going to have to think about that one.

Novellas in November Update #2: Memories of my Melancholy Whores and a Vlog

Novellas in November continues! If you’re new to this concept, well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Previous posts:

I was catching up on The Moonstone this week so I only finished one measly novella. And I vlogged! May I just say that I hate the word vlog?

Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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Reminiscent of Love in the Time of Cholera but ickier due to 75 year age difference between the romantic leads, I’m not sure what to make of this book. Familiar themes of unrequited love, the passage of time, mortality, and love as disease and cure are here. Certain passages are so beautiful that they sweep away the reservations, but the reservations creep back in.

It’s not just that this 90 year old man falls in love and, well, sexually assaults a 15 girl old girl. It’s that the girl is an object, a thing to be projected on; to be named, and watched, and dressed and posed like a doll, and rejected and pined for. I am at once relived that the “Maestro” doesn’t consummate his passion (I don’t think he did, anyway) and disappointed that the girl is so loved but never gets to participate in any way other than as a passive… not even observer, because her eyes are always closed.

Someone suggested to me that this would not be a good choice for your first Marquez and I agree. Read Cholera first, then give this a try. Here are some quotes so you may judge for yourself.

Real talk, Marquez style:

I discovered that my obsession for having each thing in the right place, each subject at the right time, each word in the right style, was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind but just the opposite: a complete system of pretense invented by me to hide the disorder of my nature. I discovered that I am not disciplined out of virtue but as a reaction to my negligence, that I appear generous in order to conceal my meanness, that I pass myself off as prudent because I am evil-minded, that I am conciliatory in order not to succumb to my repressed rage, that I am punctual only to hide how little I care about other people’s time.

Not sure if this romantic or cheesy as hell:

Blood circulated through her veins with the fluidity of a song that branched off into the most hidden areas of her body and returned to her heart, purified by love. Before I left at dawn I drew the lines of her hand on a piece of paper and gave it to Diva Sahibí for a reading so I could know her soul.

Why you can’t resist those “OMG remember the 90s” Buzzfeed lists:

The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.

Vlog: Novellas in November Library Haul
One thing about having kids is you are almost never alone in your house, which makes vlogging rather difficult. I found myself alone for a couple hours on Friday and rather than do something rational like sleep , I decide to do this. Thanks for the inspiration, Fourth Street Review!

As always, thank you to Novellas in November host Another Book Blog! Chat with us at #NovNov on Twitter.