Shane Jones’s Top Eight Novellas

Novellas are a strange thing because I’m not sure how to define them. I guess by length? The following are 8 novellas that have had an impact on me, that I love, that I would take on an island with me and read over and over again. I could have added two more, but I would only be forcing them on the list. It wouldn’t be out of love. Eight is also my lucky number.

In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan
This is one of my favorite books of all time. When I think about this book I can taste candy in my mouth. It’s simple, sweet, playful, and strange.

Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, by Herman Melville
I remember reading this as a teenager. I should go back to it more often. I was surprised that Melville could get away with a character like Bartleby.

Travel in the Mouth of the Wolf, by Paul Fattaruso
A newish kind of little book from Soft Skull that had an impact on me last year. A charming and fun book that I want to read again.

Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine, by Stanley Crawford
Another top five favorite of all time. There is nothing like this book and it should be taught in every high school. What Crawford does with images is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m not sure it’s a novella.

In the Penal Colony, by Franz Kafka
Dark, brutal, absurd, and funny.

EVER, by Blake Butler
An organic little monster of a book that changes forms from one page to the next. Scary good.

Miss Lonelyhearts, by Nathaniel West
I also read this as a teenager. It has a kind of angst to it, but it’s heartbreaking. West should have lived longer. I think I heard he died in a car accident. He was so upset that his friend Scott Fitzgerald had died that he drove through a stop sign.

The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp, and Carr, by Jesse Ball
New, old, dreamy, this little book is like a burlap sack full of gold. Ball wrote this is one day, which is incredible. I read it on my lunch break in an hour. The full version is available HERE.

Shane Jones books include: I Will Unfold You with My Hairy Hands (Greying Ghost 2008), Light Boxes (Publishing Genius 2009) and two forthcoming books: The Nightmare Filled You with Scary (Cannibal Books, September 2009) and The Failure Six (Fugue State, January 2010). Visit him at HERE.

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