Friday, December 22, 2006

‘How to read a novel’

From the NYT:

In the 1600s the total number of books available to a literate Englishman was about 2,000. Now, more than 2,000 are published a week, with 10,000 new novels every year. Given a 40-hour reading week, a 46-week working year and three hours per novel, you would need 163 lifetimes to read them all, John Sutherland calculates in his new book, “How to Read a Novel,” which aims to be a user-friendly guide to negotiating this morass. “Done well, a good reading is as creditable as a 10-scoring high dive,” he writes. “It is, I would maintain, almost as difficult to read a novel well as to write one well.” A dubious but nevertheless terrifying proposition, calling to mind the girl at the cocktail party in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” who declares to the room, “I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind.”