top of page

Novellas in November - week 3

Novellas in November is hosted by Cathy of 746 Books and Rebecca of Bookish Beck.

I seem to have missed week 2, so two themes for this week.

Week 2 (starts Monday 6 November): What Is a Novella?

Ponder the definition, list favourites, or choose ones you think best capture the ‘spirit’ of a novella.

I read Cathy's post for last week, where she mentions that a novella to her is between 100 - 200 pages. I guess I could agree to that, although, as she also says, there are shorter stories than 100 pages that very well qualify for a novella. She posted a very good quote by Ian McEwan, of which I agree:

"What still lures me is the sense, probably an illusion, that just ahead of me, always just out of my reach and completely without definition, is the perfect and beautiful thing, probably a novella, that unwraps everything around it, the ultimate human story that illuminates our brilliance and stupidity." Ian McEwan

In Swedish we don't have the word novella. We call a short story 'novell'. It means that we have a roman/novel or a novell/short story. In Sweden, it is said, a short story can be 2, 10 or 100 pages, but there is no fixed length. Usually it has a main story and it keeps to this one story. The characters are already developed when the story starts.

I read that Hemingway once was asked to write a full story in six words. He came up with. "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." These six words tells an

infinite story.

The novellas I have read are probably more short stories than novellas. But, I don't really distinguish between the two. It will be my own little rebellion.

I really enjoyed Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. It is the first novel/novell I read by her, and was overwhelmed by the story and the beauty of the prose. I also enjoyed Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith. From Goodreads:

"Isabel is a single, twentysomething thrift-store shopper and collector of remnants, things cast off or left behind by others. Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska.

Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel’s sense of history, memory, and place, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf. For Isabel, the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life. While she contemplates loss and the intricate fissures it creates in our lives, she accumulates the stories—the remnants—of those around her and she begins to tell her own story."

Week 3 (starts Monday 13 November): Broadening My Horizons

Pick your top novellas in translation and think about new genres or authors you’ve been introduced to through novellas.

Most of my reading are translations. I rarely read Swedish short stories. I have enjoyed the stories I have read, and discovered, thanks to Novellas in November. Last year I discovered E.T.A. Hoffmann, and I have just downloaded 4-5 of his novellas, or they might be short stories. They are leaning towards the horror/spooky side, which is a genre I hardly ever read. I do get scared by such stories. However, they are for listening, and if I listen during the day, it might be ok.

Novellas in November - Wrap-up

What have I read so far?

  • Miller, Madeline - Galatea (very short)

  • Rilke, Rainer Maria - Letters to a Young Poet (NF) (interesting correspondence between the poet and unknown aspiring poet)

  • Wharton, Edith - Ethan Frome (wonderful, sad tale of Ethan Frome and his hard life)

  • Smith, Alexis M. - Glaciers (great, cosy read, on history and memories, losses, wishes, and how life has its turns). Highly recommended.

17 views4 comments
bottom of page