Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Short books, with a side of Hamilton, please

Dan Rhodes lists his top 10 short novels, all under 200 pages. "All killer, no filler." (I've read, and loved, half of them.) Perhaps the novella is due for a comeback.

On the list: The Plains of Cement, by Patrick Hamilton. "The Plains of Cement is brilliantly excruciating — Hamilton tortures his characters, the reader and, I expect, himself. He's the best pub writer I know."

The Plains of Cement is the last book, and my favourite, in the trilogy published as Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky. I've quoted from it here, and then discussed it a bit further.

As for short books, I like them. Long is good too. Both have their time and their place. Short has the advantage of slipping into my bag easily. For this reason this morning in my travels across the city I started reading Cynthia Ozick's The Messiah of Stockholm — I'm loving it already and can see it claiming a position on my own list of best short books.

What short novels are your favourites?
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