EIBF 2011: five lengthy literary works
featuring Adam Levin, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King and Tolstoy
This article is from 2011.
With Adam Levin hauling his doorstopping debut novel to the Book Festival, Brian Donaldson gets double vision from five fictions over the 1000-page mark
The story of a megalomaniac 10-year-old boy who may or may not be the messiah takes place over the course of just four frenetic days, but Levin’s massive book takes in Israel’s battle for existence and an entire religion’s search for peace.
When Thomas Pynchon wrote Crying of Lot 49, its near 300 pages felt like five times more. In his 2007 work, he goes the whole hog in a multi-narrative split between its own group of characters, situations, time zone geography and philosophical problems and situations.
The late David Foster Wallace certainly can’t be accused of leaving behind a slim literary legacy. This one focussed on a dangerously entertaining movie – Infinite Jest – and how it affects everyone from a Boston halfway house for recovering drug addicts and a nearby tennis academy.
Tolstoy himself said of his epic work that it was ‘not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle’. Whatever his sprawling tale actually is, it hasn’t put off adaptive types who have turned it into movies, TV dramas, radio plays, stageworks and an opera.
This may well be the easiest read of the lot given that it’s from the commercial mindbrain of the page-turning horror master Stephen King, featuring a group of adults who try and defeat the protean being/scary clown that is threatening their childhood hometown.
Adam Levin, 27 Aug, 8.30pm, £7 (£5).