Screen loves a short for­mat

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

novel­las’ cin­e­matic cousins – for these slight vol­umes should be cel­e­brated as a lit­er­ary form too.

There’s some­thing de­li­ciously dar­ing about a book that says no more than it needs to. Novel­las are con­fi­dently self-con­tained, of­ten trust­ing us to read be­tween the lines.

It may be a more shal­low rea­son, but the novella is pleas­ingly por­ta­ble too. It won’t give you wrist- strain; hav­ing once spent three months try­ing to get through War and Peace, I can con­firm the strug­gle is real. I’ve also long been a fan of tak­ing novel­las on hol­i­day: they don’t take up half your hand-lug­gage al­lowance, and they don’t weigh you down when hik­ing through the Hi­malayas.

In an in­creas­ingly time­poor so­ci­ety – where read­ing is squished be­tween long work­ing hours, masses of “must-see” but sprawl­ing Amer­i­can TV se­ries, and a good deal of faffing about on so­cial me­dia – there’s also enor­mous sat­is­fac­tion in ac­tu­ally get­ting to the end of a book. There’s a gen­uine thrill to some­thing that can be read straight through on a rainy Sunday af­ter­noon or over the course of a cou­ple of com­mutes, whether that’s a pulpy thriller or a modern clas­sic.

And, no snob­bery here, but think how many clas­sics are pocket- sized: Ernest Hem­ming­way’s The Old Man and the Sea, Al­bert Camus’ The Out­sider, Ge­orge Or­well’s An­i­mal Farm, Franz Kafka’s The Me­ta­mor­pho­sis, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Kate Chopin’s The Awak­en­ing, Leo Tol­stoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sar­gasso Sea, plus the works by Tru­man Capote, An­thony Burgess, Muriel Spark, F Scott Fitzger­ald, John Stein­beck and Thomas Mann. Power through these in three months and you’ll be au fait with a great mass of our best, most heavy-weight writ­ers – but with­out the ex­cess bag­gage. – The In­de­pen­dent

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.