For weeks (okay, okay—over a month) my blog has proudly featured a post with the title “I Hate Exercise” and it has been there, the first thing I see, wherever my site is advertised, like a glaring banner of self-admitted weakness, and finally I thought:
“Enough of that.”
This new one is much catchier, right?
Incidentally, I also have something to say about epicness, particularly epic fiction. And I don’t mean it in the pop-culture sense of the word, that is just so cool and massive in its coolness.
An epic is traditionally a genre of poetry—like the Iliad and the Odyssey, or the Old English Beowulf. Nowadays, an epic can mean anything that follows a theme of grandeur and heroism. But how I’m thinking of it right now is based on the incredibly simplistic definition of: a really, really long book.
Books like these.
I’m currently sketching research ideas for a future novel set as a Western and my dad (die-hard cowboy that he is) sent me home with a whole stack of movies, the first of which was the six-hour long miniseries of Lonesome Dove—which, if you didn’t know, is based on the 600-something page novel (that also won the Pulitizer).
I loved it, in the same way I love many historical miniseries where I can sink into the world and the characters for a good, long while.
Hence, my renewed obsession with long-ass books.
One of my top-favorite classics is The Count of Monte Cristo, and I was flipping through it the other day because my WIP has some revenge themes in it, and I kept thinking, “Geez, I forgot how good this was.” In the publishing industry—at least lately, in our hyper-competitive media world—we get pretty finicky about lengthy word counts. If you’re a new author trying to get signed, forget about it. But why is that? I mean, not always, but fairly freaking often, the big guns are winning literary prizes and they create cultish groups of fans. Last year, to name some contemporary literary examples, there was: Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Sergio de la Pava’s A Naked Singularity.
Do I even need to mention Game of Thrones (or any fantasy series? because, duh)?
Here’s what I like about big books: you have to get really comfortable with them. A big page count means multiple days, multiple sitting-downs with this book and this world and these characters. This ain’t no one-night stand, it’s a commitment.
Therefore, even though it’s harder to get through a longer book, and you may not always be in the mood or have time for one, if you finish one, there’s no way you’re not at least a little affected. You are changed.
Here is my secret confession:
It is my dream to right a really big novel. When I was younger, I used to think, like Les Miserables! Now I, more realistically, can admit that . . . probably not like Les Miserables, but I can still write a book that spans multiple characters and years of time, and it might in fact suck, but whatever that’s my dream. (And is sort of, if I may confess a little more, the book of my heart, the one I’m waiting to write until I’m a better writer so I do it justice.)
So, hi, I’m McKelle, and I like big books—
—and I cannot lie.
(Just kidding. Couldn’t resist.)
. . . and you other readers can’t deny, when a book walks in with a good plot base and big spine in your face, you get sprung!
(Okay. Now I’m really done.)
Banned Books week is two weeks away, and I think I need a badge that says I <3 BB, and BB can stand for Banned Books or Big Books. And in honor of these two grand loves, I’ve decided to read a big banned book I’ve never read (and never seen the movie either, somehow), namely:
Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, which finds itself at number 26 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most-banned classics.
Happy reading, y’all.