Monday, December 11, 2006
The Haunted Hillbilly by Derek McCormack
This is the kind of novel that only a small press is likely to publish--strange and risk-taking and hard to define and with a limited audience--and that's one of the reasons small presses need to exist. The novel is about a country western singer who is made and destroyed by a vampiric (literally) manager and is told in a spare voice that leaves a lot to the imagination. It's an interesting book. But I admit I kept wondering why the publisher insisted on publishing it as a novel. There is so much white space on each page (and the trim size is small to start) that it reminded me of the shenagins students pull when they meet a page requirement via giant fonts, triple spacing and two inch margins. It's really a long short story, maybe a novella, and one that might have been served well by being packaged with some other pieces of writing by the same author. But then it got me thinking about the idea of a book. My poet friends are always thinking about what constitutes a book--what poems to leave out, how many poems they need to have in--but as a novelist, you write your story, you print it out, there's your book. So why can't something that's rather short compared to even a short novel, be called a novel and be done with it. I suspect, rather embarrassingly, it has something to do with wanting to feel I got my money's worth.