It’s exciting to be in Disgrace. Halfway through in just two reading sessions, and it’s simply wonderful. This is the first Coetzee for me and his cracklingly clean sentences are just the thing to launch this reader into spring mode. Last year at about this time, I read House of Meetingsby Martin Amis, tripping through it quickly and feeling that its energy sparked a momentum that carried me many months. Yesterday afternoon, I was lucky to listen to a 1990 interview with Brian Moore, the underknown Irish writer who died in 1999, leaving the world twenty novels. I’ve read a few now, and he’s occupying the heights with Philip Roth, Henry James, and Willa Cather.
But back to the interview…Something Moore said about his pull towards leaner and more impactful prose really impressed me. I don’t usually consider the length of a novel when pulling it from the shelf, unless it’s something over 500 pages. Then, it’s a tougher choice as I tally the hours and days it may take to burn through those pages. As I listened to Moore’s soft Irish voice suggesting that literature may in fact be more powerful when it’s expressed in economical form, I agreed totally and silently reshaped a bit of my thinking. If I live to be my grandmother’s age of 97, and, with excellent health and some good genes in my corner there’s no reason to think it couldn’t happen, that’s still only another 50 years. If I’m lucky enough to read a novel per week, that’s still only another 2500 or so to anticipate at the outside estimate. So, no more wasting time on anything that doesn’t take hold in a reasonable number of pages, and I’m giving myself a pass on War and Peace and Ulysses. Springing forward.