Thursday, August 25, 2005

Heavy reading, with a bit of rambling

I found this at Bookslut. Paul Anderson might be a guy with balls the size of cantaloupes. His debut novel, Hunger's Brides, weighs in at a modest 1,360 pages. This New York Times article on the book puts that in some perspective. The book itself almost weighs five pounds. It's thicker than the Manhattan phone book. But maybe I'm just envious of Anderson's ambition. The book's website is impressive, too.

Actually, I just thought of something that might be funnier than a near-1,400 page debut novel about a 17th-century Mexican poet. Start up a book club, and make Hunger's Brides your first selection.

When I worked at Borders, a friend and I thought it'd be fun to run a book club. She let me choose the first book. "Cool!" I thought. "I'll pick something I want to read." So our book club's debut selection was Freedomland by Richard Price. 736 pages. I remember our store manager's reaction: "Don't you want people to actually show up?"

No one showed up. And I really couldn't complain, since I didn't even finish the book myself. Well, I almost finished it during my lunch break. My plan was mostly to discuss dialogue and characters. But I did finish it eventually. It's a great book. Your book club should try it out. Or just wait for the movie.

Books with huge page counts remind me of a favorite foot-in-mouth moment. It was at my sister's best friend's wedding. My parents and I didn't stay for the reception, but we stopped in at the pre-reception cocktail hour. (Ian doesn't drive home from weddings without getting some food, especially if a two-hour drive was involved. Or if there's shrimp cocktail to be had. Just so you know.) The bride's father, a lifelong military man, was talking about retirement and mentioned a book he was working on about motivation. All his years in the service had taught him so much about successfully motivating people, and he wanted to pass that knowledge along. So far, he said, he'd written about 600 pages.

"600 pages?" I said. "I hope the first chapter's about motivating me to read the rest of the book!"

I can't be certain, but I think the music stopped playing at that moment. Everyone gathered around turned to look at me. After a few beats, someone finally let out a laugh. Thank you, Dad. Then the bride's father laughed. I was off the hook. I think.

And I think we left shortly after that. But mostly because my parents were tired. Yep. I have no idea if the bride's father ever finished that book, by the way.