Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Five books that blur the line between the novel and the short story

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well.

At B & N Reads Somers tagged five books that work equally well as both novels and story collections, including:
A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

The 2011 Pulitzer winner for fiction is perhaps the most perfect example of this kind of hybrid. Read it in one sitting and it’s a novel, telling the tale of a group of people linked by music and the modern music industry. It’s a novel peppered with creative and exhilarating postmodern touches that shouldn’t work as well as they do as the story jumps back and forth through time—time and its function as the “stealth goon” that truly takes everything from you being the bitter center of the story—but recognizably a novel. Read it one story at a time, however, and you walk away totally satisfied with each piece, with no sense that you’re missing the larger picture. How exactly Egan managed to pull this off is both obvious and mysterious: the tricks of the trade are easy to identify, but the specific recipe she used is difficult to articulate, which is generally the case for all the best art.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Visit From the Goon Squad is among Gillian Anderson's six favorite books and Julie Christie's seven favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue