I’m interested in this sleight of hand: what makes the novella not just a long story, not just a short novel? Is the difference thematic? Logistic? Pacing? Structural? Authorial intent? Publishing practise? If The Dead is a novella (at 15,600 words), why isn’t Alice Munro’s “Carried Away” (at 21,000 words)? If The Old Man and the Sea is a novella, why isn’t The Great Gatsby? If Bellow’s “What Kind of Day Did You Have” was published as a story at 73 (compact) pages, why was his The Actual published as an stand-alone novella at (a widely printed) 103 pages? Does 30 pages make all the difference? And by publishing The Actual as a novella, how did Bellow alter reader expectations, the reading experience, the way readers approach and interpret the text? And importantly: what can be gained (or lost)—for a writer—by self-defining a project as a novella? Can it aid in the writing of a longer work? Allow a slow-boiling story the narrative time to rise to a rolling heat? Or is it just a meaningless aesthetic choice, a superfluous matter of page-count? Is it an ‘in between’ form, orphan genre—poised for publishing scorn and reader confusion?
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