Three Books in Three Days (3)

For the last book in this three-day roundup, I’ve picked a novella — one of my favourite literary forms. Too often, reviewers treat novellas either as mini-novels or bloated short stories (if they bother with them at all). Yet if you’re looking for a textbook example of classic novella form, John Calabro’s An Imperfect Man has it…

Carole Reads!

Here’s a “heads-up” for all of you who live in the Toronto area (and even if you don’t!): I’ll be reading brand-new work at a Novella Night as part of the popular WordStage Reading Series. More soon, but save the date: Wednesday, December 14th . Things get rolling at 7.30 pm, at the New Dooney’s…

Men Alone: Two Debut Novellas

Back from holidays now, I’ve just finished reading two exceptional novellas — The Old Whitaker Place by David Chambers and Mitko by Garth Greenwell. The two books complement and mirror each other. Both are debut works, the first by a retired man, the second by a youth. Both are characterized by exceptionally strong and distinctive…

The Best Revenge (2)

Today’s story is about not getting even. I’ve had good reason for mulling this over. Revenge is pointless because what’s been damaged — almost always in a relationship of some kind — is damaged for good. Anything new that grows in its place will not replace what’s lost. If it weren’t so, there’s be no…

Heinrich Böll’s The Train Was On Time.

Our conventional idea of a well-constructed novel (or novella) has a narrative arc: beginning, middle and end, climax and resolution, an energetic plot dramatized by a protagonist and an antagonist with a conflict brewing between them. Good reading, but sometimes the structure’s too tidy for real life, where conflicts happen all the time, but resolution…

Novellas at Deer Park

April is Keep Toronto Reading Month, so if you live in the city, come to the Novellas at Deer Park series on Tuesday, April 19th when I’ll be reading from my novella A Gardener on the Moon. I’ll also be talking about some of my favourite novellas and why they matter as quality reading, especially for…

A Classic Arabic Novella

Most novellas are either lighthearted or extremely potent, like a shot of vodka swallowed in a gulp. I’ve just finished one of the hundred-proof variety and I’m knocked flat out. My research tells me that Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani is a classic of Arab literature and that its author is right up…