This morning I found my Sandman Companion still open to the page I was on when I left 7 weeks ago (that is a true sign of marital respect, folks. As well as of geekiness on my part.) And Neil Gaimen is saying that he learned in World’s End that some stories can’t be told in 24 pages. And it made me think of his novels, such as Anasi Boys, which at 416 pages could hardly be called a short book– except it is. I read it in a couple days. Compare with the truely amazing and terrific Middlesex, weighing in at 544 pages. If I hadn’t looked up the two, I would have sworn Anasi Boys was 250-300 pages, and Middlesex was 800.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed both of these books, and I would recommend you go buy both, as well as American Gods and Virgin Suicides (their other marvelous books). But I find it odd that at a mere 100 pages more, Middlesex feels like I read two or three books, and that lives were changed in the process. Anasi Boys could have been a graphic novel. I feel like I’ve ordered desert with my husband and he’s ordered a souffle and I a flourless chocolate torte can I can’t figure out why he’s finished his and is now starting to work on mine. Middlesex is dense. But not dense like Chauser, it’s very easy and pleasureable to read. It’s just the Gaimen book feels like someone has beaten air into it for 20 minutes, like you see on a cooking show.
Neither has filler, neither has useless scenes, neither is written in a overly formal or inaccesable style. So why the difference? What makes a “fast read” a fast read?