I like short stories. They’re kinda like jokes – you establish a situation, then muck about with it.
And in the practical World we live in, they make great reading material. I mean, most people read books for short periods – like on the bus or train or somesuch. Thus great big doorstop books are a PAIN.
In My Day, most popular fiction came in packages ranging from 200-350 pages. Fine. Then along came Arthur Hailey with “Airport”. It ran about 550 pages and was stuffed with carefully-researched background material about the air industry.
It was part of a series, dealing with all sorts of industries, which included “Hotel”, “Wheels” (car factory) “The Moneychangers” (bank) “Strong Medicine” (pharmaceutical company) “Overload” (electric company) and “In High Places” (government).
But despite their length, they were skillfully divided into chapters that would form “episodes”, bouncing from character to character, most of which culminated in a “cliffhanger” which would be picked up later.
“Airport” was such a good book that the first time I read it, I LITERALLY couldn’t put it down and read the whole thing straight off – took me about ten hours (I don’t know why I’m plugging Hailey – he’s a friggin’ millionaire and highly unlikely to plug MY scribblings).
Anyhay, m’point is, even a 550-page doorstop is readable, if it’s skillfully written. But the works of Tom Clancy run some 1,300 pages each. Huh?
Yes. This pint-sized military wannabe lives in a World of his own, which he periodically lets us into – at thirteen-hundred pages an episode. JEEZ!
And yet his books are popular. I’ve read a couple and they aren’t bad – but read in two-hourly chunks, you spend the first hour trying to recall what and who were doing what to whom.
All I can say is unless his readers have phenomenal memories, they must have NO lives of their own!