Nicholas Goldberg: In defense of long, bug-crushing, Kleenex-box sized novels
“The more I read, the more I like it.” That is one of the most common rationalizations for reading very large books, a common complaint about the size of the books that come to mind as I scroll through book sections on Amazon, the only bookstore that deals in mass-market, mass-produced books.
I’ve written about a lot of the best books I’ve read; the good, the bad, the terrible. Many of those books were of very large size. This is one of mine.
The title, Unusual Uses of Trousers, comes from a passage from James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is often discussed as one of the most innovative, surprising, and mind-blowing short stories of all time.
The idea for a book that’s more than two and a half inches thick was mine, and I got it out of something that I wanted to write. At least for now. It took a couple of years to complete the book, but I wanted to be sure it was finished first so that I could be sure people would see the end result before starting. It would take a lot of effort to get it to the point where I could make a final decision as to whether or not I would publish it. And if I published it, I’d do it in a style that would make it a challenge for readers. It wasn’t just about being as long as possible, but about producing something that was as beautiful as possible.
The end result for a book that’s more than two and a half inches thick is not quite what I’d imagined. I’d intended to use one of the big, heavy paperbacks to hold the book pages together to reduce thickness to something like 3 inches at the back, but they didn’t weigh much, and the size of the book meant that I could’t use the binding as an inexpensive stand-alone bookbinding, which would have been a problem because I don’t