I have unashamedly pinched Robert McCrum's header from his column on books in yesterday's Observer Review [19 February] in which he laments the increasing rarity of the 'slim volume' as this was exactly our moan at the last book group meeting. As McCrum says, 'the covers of books are too far apart'!
The moan arose because everyone had so enjoyed Barnes' Sense of an Ending remarking particularly how much he could say in 150 pages and other similarly brief titles came to mind such as Monsieur Linh and His Child, Saramago's Death at Intervals, Marani's New Finnish Grammar and, of course, the incomparable Point Omega by DeLillo. All titles that are brief in terms of pages but far more complex in emotion, thought and characterization than so many of the block busters one has to wade through nowadays where the lack of the editor's blue pencil is so obvious. Beckett of course was the master of a few words.
Of course, I do not deny that their are some mighty tomes worthy of their length and depth such as War and Peace or A la recherche de temps perdu or Ulysses - one could go on - but then, there is also The Strangers Child and Freedom and, more recently, The Art of Fielding whose lengths are baffling and tedious.
Thank you Robert McCrum for drawing attention to this issue!