Fiction Friday: Lil' Books by Alex Snider

Reasons why reading a novel consisting of no more than 150 pages is better than reading War and Peace:

1. You can read in bed and drift asleep without knocking yourself out.

2. The warm feeling that you get from starting something and seeing it through happens so much quicker.

3. You can brag to your friends that you read a book in a day and still got your laundry done.

4. A manageable number of characters.

5. Every word matters, nothing is wasted.

6. There aren't rants spanning fifty pages proclaiming the author to be a superior historian to actual historians.

7. Quantity and quality. Best of both worlds!

8. Tolstoy Wrist (think tennis elbow but smarter).

And, so, I give you a long list of short books:

Disquiet by Julia Leigh -- Something for everyone: empowerment, independence, redemption and dead freezer babies.

Haunted Hillbilly by Derek McCormack -- If Hank Williams Sr. had sold his soul to the devil for a magical suit.

Linger Awhile by Russell Hoban -- Black and white film star reanimated and the only thing that will give her colour is human blood. Russell Hoban is fucking amazing.

Without Blood by Alessandro Barrico -- Revenge, sweet not totally fulfilling but still satisfactory, revenge!

The Wild Party by Joseph March -- I actually feel disappointed in every party I attend because of this book.

Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- Did you know that yellow is the colour of madness in Russian literature? I bet Charlotte Perkins Gilman did.

Gents by Warwick Collins -- Heartwarming story about anonymous bathroom sex and overcoming bigotry.

Chess by Stephen Zwieg -- It's surprising how many novels I've read about chess masters and chess matches but still didn't really understand the game until D'Angelo explained it on The Wire. The king is always the king...

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell -- Such a beautiful novel about class politics and growing up in small town America.

West of Rome by John Fante -- There's this really fucked up scene where a dude lets his dog attack a beached whale in front of a bunch of onlookers and then the dog gets shot and it's all really weird because you're "like, dude, what the fuck? Why would you let your dog attack a helpless, traumatized and probably dying animal?" Fante was Bukowski's hero so make of that what you will.

Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway -- My favourite Hemingway. Basically a hilariously grumpy tirade against his peers.

A Mystery, a Murder, and a Marriage by Mark Twain -- Mark Twain!

Invention of Morel by Adolpho Bioy Casares -- Science fiction novel about photographs coming to life. Or is it about people turning into photographs? Or is it both???

Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya -- He also wrote a novel about a guy who kills another guy and takes over his car which happens to be filled with snakes. Senselessness doesn't involve snakes but does involve El Salvadorian genocide.

Remembering Laughter by Wallace Stegner -- His first novel and I feel like it's an allegory of something but I can't think of what. Or it could just be about shame and shame ruining lives. Know what, doesn't matter because Wallace Stegner could scribble his grocery list on a napkin and it would be literary gold.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francois Sagan -- Remember how awesome it was being a teenager? Remember all those carefree days of hedonistic pleasure, lazying about the French Riviera, losing your virginity to beautiful older boys? Me neither. Don't worry, though, she gets hers...

Ghosts by Cesar Aira -- Everyone knows that ghosts can't physically hurt you, that it's the messing with your head that you need to worry about.

Cannery Row by John Steinbach -- Gosh, this is such a lovely little story about a bunch of societal outcasts just makin' the best of things.

The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories by Horacio Quiroga -- Pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger -- Ah, to be an idealistic teenager again and be righteously outraged at everything and everyone.

The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches by GaĆ©tan Soucy -- Oh boy, what a great read! So darn creepy and skin-crawly.

Last Night by James Salter -- I'm not really a big Salter fan but there is one story in this collection about a woman dying of cancer and her decision to kill herself that blew me away.

The Dog of the Marriage by Amy Hempel -- Words cannot actually express how much I love Amy Hempel. She takes my breath away.

Malvinas Requiem by Rodolfo Fogwill -- What happens when you defect from the army in the middle of a war? You have to live in a cave with a bunch of other guys who you will probably hate.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn -- Really makes you reexamine your priorities and attitudes when Ivan is bursting with joy over an extra bowl of gruel.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark -- I  wish I had had a teacher like Miss Brodie. Minus the whole fascism thing. And, the manipulation. And, the judgement.

Alex Snider is a Toronto-based writer, a Contributing Editor for the Little Red Umbrella and the co-creator of the Once Again, To Zelda blog, which is where a version of this post originally appeared. You can read the rest of her posts here.


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