Guest Post: "The Case for the Novella" by Naomi Bulger

“Why don’t you write a few thousand more words?” a friend asked me, after I finished writing Airmail. “Your book is too short. People want value for money.”
I tried to explain that ‘padding’ my book with a few thousand extra words would not make it a better value read, just a more tedious read. I tried to explain that a clean, succinct novella made for a rollicking read that didn’t need to ramble.
But my friend was unconvinced, until I also made the point that in today’s time-poor world, there was something to be said for a book that you could start and finish in one rainy afternoon, preferably with a glass or two of red wine to hand. Just like a good magazine.
Indeed, sci-fi author Robert Silverberg says the novella is “one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms,” and I humbly agree.
A novella is essentially a short novel. Traditionally between 20,000 and 40,000 words, it is long enough to allow for a complex plot and full character development, but is less likely to sustain multiple storylines or a large cast of support characters.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, think Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ernest Hemingways’ The Old Man and the Sea, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. All novellas.
Yet Steven King once called the novella “an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic,” citing the difficulties of publishing a work that is too long for magazines and too short to fit the standard definition of ‘novel’.
And I confess it is true, the novella has not been popular in recent years. As bookstore mega-giants like Borders close down, and e-books rise in popularity, an increasingly jittery publishing industry is less likely than ever to take risks with formats that lie outside the tried and tested formulae.
But I put it to the jury that in the rush of contemporary life, the novella is due to rise from the ashes as the predominant fiction format of the twenty-teens.
I enjoy a good Gone With the Wind-esque saga as much as the rest of them. But let’s face it: in an era of Internet degrees, microwave dinners and drive-thru pharmacies, a tome like GWTW can take months to finish. On the other hand, what if you could enjoy a full and satisfying read in the space of two or three stolen hours? This is the gift of the novella to the time-poor reader.
Don’t remove that four-generation family saga from your bedside table. But please spare a little (and you’ll only need a little) time for the humble novella. You may just discover a world you’ll love, in an afternoon that becomes utterly and completely yours.
My question for you: You’re given two hours of interruption-free reading time. What do you read?  
Airmail, a new magic realism novella by Naomi Bulger, was published in April 2011, and is available online at Barnes & Noble and numerous other good bookstores. Naomi maintains a blog about writing, creativity and the absurdities of life at, and she promises to write a personal letter of thanks to everyone who buys a copy of Airmail

Coming Up This Week…

I’ll be posting a review of Be Careful What You Wish For by Sibel Hodge later this week. In addition, I’ll review a book (or two) chosen from my personal stash of TBR books. I haven’t decided on the title yet as there are so many to chose from, where do I begin? 

I’m also pleased to announce a guest post for Monday, May 8th. Ms. Naomi Bulger, author of Airmail, will be providing us with a post on “The Case for the Novella.”

Happy reading until then…

Book 105: AIRMAIL by Naomi Bulger

Anouk is currently living in New York City and writes letters about her life, sent via airmail, to a complete stranger in Australia. Mr. G.L. Solomon is that stranger. He’s an elderly retiree and his life is centered around highly structured albeit empty days. This life of his is given a lift when he starts receiving letters from this strange woman in New York City. His life takes an unexpected turn when he the letters begin to state that they are being written from the “other side.”

There’s a bit of quirkiness and the strange woven into this tale that borders on paranormal or fantasy without quite taking the step fully into either of those genres. Ms. Bulger presents us with two lives, Anouk and Mr. Solomon, that seem incomplete without the other even though they don’t really know one another. They both seem to be biding their time and waiting for something miraculous to happen. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this story and was pleasantly surprised throughout my reading. This story kept me on edge, never knowing what was going to come with the next line or what the characters would do. If you’re looking for something different to read, then please add Airmail by Naomi Bulger to your list.

DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author for review purposes. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”