Ben Pester’s Favorite Shorter Novels and Novellas

These are all “shorter novels” as well as strict novellas, I’ve used my own definition in places rather than what it says on the cover.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, by Yukio Mishima
Salt water and the constant probe of the human eye spill through these stories of a widow trying to love in spite of her son’s aggressive puberty. It says somewhere that this book is all about violence and homicidal hysteria, too it’s about the distance and perspective of a solitude abandoned.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
He dies. You keep getting told he will. Gradually you feel more helpless. Then he is killed.

Candide, by Voltaire
Almost everybody in this book gets syphilis, gets raped, or has to eat a part of their own body. When my child is born, we’re moving to France so that Candide can be a part of its heritage.

The Prodigy, by Herman Hesse
He wrote this before The Glass Bead Game or Steppenwolf as though it’s almost nothing at all. A boy goes to an exclusive school, he overworks, he burns out, he falls in love, he fails school, he returns home, manages two days “real” work, a few kisses, a death in the river.

Cat & Mouse, by Gunter Grass
There’s a lot of birdshit in this and cyclical references to a cat hunting a Nazi hero’s Adam’s apple. First (and my favourite) of the Danzig Trilogy.

Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys
A lot more men should read Jean Rhys.

Coming Through the Slaughter, by Michael Ondaatje
There’s a fight in a barber that I still have dreams about. Also the main character “vanishes” from time to time, he vanishes from the book, from your life. You mourn and then he comes back.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn
This is a classic isn’t it? How can I describe a classic? It gave me a strange hope that I would be able to still find success in an existence where Fat is my only commodity.

But Beautiful, by Geoff Dyer
Orson Wells said (roughly) of Paper Moon: “That title is so good, you shouldn’t even make the picture, you should just release the title!” But Beautiful is a better title.

Joy in the Morning, by P.G. Wodehouse
Cures all sadness.

Ben Pester writes storylines, game mechanics, dialogue and screenplays for video games, mostly on PS3. He also writes short films and longer plays for performance with mixed-media. He’s currently finishing his first novel. Find him online HERE.

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