Is The Novel Dead?

The title of this blogpost caught my attention this morning.

“What?” I thought. “How could anyone think that?”

For me, the novel is most certainly not dead. There is still nothing as wonderful as escaping into a book and finding myself immersed in its setting, caught up in its action and carried away by the story.

Short stories and novellas are fabulous when life is busy, because I can achieve those escapes in the time I have available. But when time to read is more plentiful, a good novel is a marvellous thing.

The novel will never be dead as long as there are great books to read. I’m fairly confident that, given the quality of the new books I have been reading, it’s not likely to be happening in the foreseeable future.

And on that note, I take exception to the original writer’s suggestion that self-published books are rubbish, and therefore partly to blame for the demise of the popularity of reading. Blame the obsession with screens of whatever size, and with the Internet and social media, and I’ll gladly concur, but leave Indie authors out of it. As I’ve said plenty of times before, I’ve read some absolutely brilliant self-published books, and I’ve read – or attempted to read – some tragically bad traditionally published ones. Let each book stand or fall on its own merits, I say.

I feel sorrow for any reader who is so disillusioned by their reading that they believe the novel is a thing of the past. More than likely, they have simply been reading the wrong books.

If you’re interested in great Indie book recommendations, follow Book Squirrel.

Richie Billing

A couple weeks ago, an article by writer Damien Walter grabbed my wandering attention. The title: I STOPPED READING NOVELS LAST YEAR. I THINK YOU DID TOO.

I was curious. So I had a read and discovered that Walter is a professional book reviewer, even had a regular sci-fi column for The Guardian. He’s experienced and well-respected and fed up of the novel.

Why?

For Water, the novel lost its magic. It no longer has the same magical feel as it did when he was a kid, “spending afternoons at the local library, selecting books as though I was selecting magical portals to step through. Then I would rush home and lose myself in the magic for hours, days at a time.”

Walter recognises the influences modern-day phenomenons have had on us. Here are some of my favourite quotes from his piece. I’d recommend reading in full too. He’s an…

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2 thoughts on “Is The Novel Dead?

  1. I read that guy’s blog post. It sounds maybe like his life has changed to the extent that he can’t enjoy novels anymore, but instead of examining that, he’s blaming the medium instead. I’m also not convinced by his argument that novel-writing has become trashier over the years. There was plenty of garbage novel-writing going on in the early 20th century; lots of old pulp fiction cranked out to make a dollar. The same is probably true of the 19th century, only all the crap’s been forgotten now because it wasn’t worth remembering. And as you say, there’s plenty of good stuff that’s self-published. The same is true of the game market now; indie developers can take the kinds of risks that AAA developers and big publishers are too afraid to take.

    Speaking of games, a few weeks ago, I read a very similar post at one of the big game journalism sites about how a reviewer fell out of love with role-playing games. Just like Walter, instead of facing the fact that he probably no longer has the time to play 50+ hour games that involve lots of mindless grinding, he blamed the medium. This is a fact that I’ve faced up to myself — I used to love JRPGs, but I don’t really have the time to play them anymore. That doesn’t mean the genre has lost its spark, it just means my life has changed to the point that I can no longer get into them.

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