Nicholas Goldberg: In defense of long, bug-crushing, Kleenex-box sized novels
In a world where people tend to think of long books as being about books as books, and books as being about books as books, the idea of a book that’s “one of a kind” makes me feel a little weird. I’m a fan of books — I wrote a book about books, for crying out loud. I believe strongly in the power of books to change people’s lives, even if those changes are very small ones. But even if the changes they make don’t amount to much, I still want to make them, and I want them to come across in my life as I do in my writing.
As such, when I came across the work of Nicholas Goldberg, I wanted to find out how I could do the same for my writing. Goldberg started off with this list of words (he uses the word “inadequate” in some of the same areas that writers use the word “incredible”) that he felt were either unproblematic or problematically inadequate to convey what his vision of the perfect book is.
When he published the list on his website and people started commenting on it (and on the idea that his ideal book would be something that exists only on his website, where it would be called a “blog series” or “a set of three books”), Goldberg became more aware of his “project.” He realized that his project was not, in fact, just him. He realized that his project had to be something that other people could read, something that was available for other people to read.
So in the course of responding to these readers’ comments about what they wanted in a book, Goldberg realized that he wanted to write a book where he didn’t just read a lot of words, where he wanted to read even more words.
So he decided to write a book where