Category Archives: Novellas

Peter Selgin’s Top Ten (Plus Two) Favorite Novellas

1. Seize the Day, by Saul Bellow

2. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

3. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. Devil in the Flesh, by Raymond Radiguet

5. The Nickel Misery of George Washington Carver Brown, by Ivan Gold

6. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark

7. My Friends, by Emmanuel Bove

8. By the Steps of Grand Central I Sat Down and Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

9. The Dead, by James Joyce

10. The Stranger, by Albert Camus

Special Mention:

Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar

Peter Selgin has written Drowning Lessons, By Cunning & Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers, and Life Goes to the Movies. His stories and essays have appeared in over 50 publications, as well as in the anthologies Our Roots Are Deep With Passion (Other Books, 2006), Writing Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2003), and Best American Essays 2006. He edits the journal Alimentum: The Literature of Food. Visit him HERE.

Christine Schutt’s Favorite Novella

If I had to pick one novella on the spot it would be Claire Messud’s A Simple Tale, a portrait of Maria Poniatowski, her life before, during, (she is in a concentration camp for some of the text) and after, when she moves to the USA with her husband. Quite a complete portrait, I should say. The size of the text fits Maria.

Christine Schutt is the author of Nightwork, A Night, A Day, Another Night, Summer, and Florida, and has been awarded many honors. Her new novel, All Souls, is out now from Harcourt. Visit her HERE.

Bradley Sands’s Top Ten Favorite Novellas

10. The Haberdasher, by Jordan Krall
I really love weird crime fiction, but I haven’t been able to find much of it. Jordan is involved in the bizarro fiction scene. Many of the books in this list are bizarro fiction since most of those writers specialize in novellas.

9. Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link
About a pirated TV show. I like television a lot more than I care to admit.

8. Help! A Bear is Eating Me, by Mykle Hansen
Sort of like Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine, but rather than going up an escalator, the protagonist spends the entire book getting eaten by a bear. Hilarious. I can’t think of any other character in fiction who I loved to hate as much.

7. Being There, by Jerzy Kosinsky
I read this one a few months after I saw the movie. I was thinking about writing a novel about a man spends the first twenty years of his life locked in a room, where television is his only connection to the real world, until he escapes. Then I realized that Being There had almost the exact same setup. So I read it and fell in love with the prose.

6. The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports, by Kevin L. Donihe
Full disclosure: I once had a beer bottle cap war with this author. My favorite Donihe book. It’s about a bicycle race and involves a ninja and the apocalypse. It also appears in the first Bizarro Starter Kit (orange).

5. My Work is Not Yet Done, by Thomas Ligotti
Ligotti normally writes stories, but this is his first novella. It’s about an office worker who takes revenge on his co-workers. Ligotti’s work feels like it’s in another dimensional and does weird things to my brain. This book is out of print, but being re-released at the end of April.

4. Sea of Patchwork Cats, by Carlton Mellick III
Everyone in the world commits suicide at the same time except for one alcoholic. The Earth floods with water and the alcoholic survives by living in a floating house. Mellick’s most beautiful book.

3. Shamanspace, by Steve Aylett
About an occult assassin who is trying to kill God. Unlike Aylett’s other novels, this one doesn’t have any jokes. It’s like a modernized version of an epic poem. It also appears in the second Bizarro Starter Kit (I have a novella in there as well).

2. Light Boxes, by Shane Jones
Happy surrealism that’s written in a simple language, but feels magical. Jones really likes the term, “happy surrealism.”

1. In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan
Brautigan writes science fiction. So good that it leaves me with the inability to say very much about it. One of my favorite books of all time.

Bradley Sands writes absurdist comedies that demolish the walls of reality. He lives in Amherst, MA, where he edits Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens (A Journal of Absurd and Surreal Fiction). He experienced enlightenment after walking into a bookstore and being shocked to see his picture on the cover of Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful. Visit him HERE.

Tim Russell’s Top Ten Favorite Novellas

1. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
It’s the greatest book ever about party planning. It also features a grisly and haunting few pages on the scary, cat-loving Mrs. Talbot. If it weren’t called “Chapter XXIV,” I’d swear it was a perfect short story rather than a part of my favourite novella.

2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
“[D]o you happen to know any nice lesbians… I simply can’t afford a maid; and really, dykes are wonderful homemakers.”

3. The Breast, by Philip Roth
It’s either a slim and sexy novel or a long and dirty joke. I’m convinced it’s the latter but I’ve been told off for sharing this view too many times.

4. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
I give this book to eleven year-olds boys who come to my library and tell them that it’s an adventure story. I’ve not met one yet who enjoyed it. It’s also fun to play “Was Conrad a Racist?” at parties after you’ve read it.

5. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
I give this book to eleven year-olds boys who come to my library and tell them it’s science fiction. The results have been no better than with Conrad. Whatevs. It’s ace.

6. The Toth Family, by Istvan Orkeny
Orkeny is a wonderful Hungarian writer whose work I’ve only seen in bookshops there. This novella makes my list in part because it describes a man being cut and folded like a cardboard box. The whole text is bizarre but always lucid.

7. The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin
Most of Levin’s novels are out of print in the U.K. so I had to buy this novel with Nicole Kidman on the cover. The novella simulates and deforms the squabbles, tensions and book groups of rich suburbia. The cover still annoys me.

8. The Comfort of Strangers, by Ian McEwan
I spent my whole time reading this novel thinking “get to the rape” You know something bad is going to happen from Chapter One and I was jumping at doorbells until that something bad happened.

9. Love and Friendship, by Jane Austen
I hate using words like “satire” and “pastiche.” There’s only one word for it: this novella is a clear diss. It’s a diss of the eighteenth century novel but a diss is always fun, no matter how dry its target.

10. Foe, by J.M. Coetzee
I like this novella more due to my taste in music than my literary preferences. Foe is both a quick Greatest Hits (with the colonial oppression, mutilation and misogyny from his other works forced into a hundred-and-something pages) and an awkward hip-hop remix of Robinson Crusoe.

Tim Russell is a young writer from Manchester. He has written a story collection called Sudden Scripture, set mainly in this city, and is now writing a novel about its suburbs. Find him online HERE.