"A Novel"

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"A Novel"

Postby King Author » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:23 pm UTC

Browsing the stacks the other day (I never buy books, *looks at camera* I always take out from my local library *pleasant smile*) I noticed about five books subtitled, "A Novel." Can't remember their names off the top of my head because I impulsively thumbed through each and could tell I wouldn't like them.

My question: Have you ever read a book that was subtitled "A Novel" that wasn't utter crap? It's just like screaming "I think I'm a genius and I know you will, too" when you subtitle your book "A Novel." It's the most pretentious things writers regularly get away with without anyone calling them out. But I'm curious if there's anything out there with the subtitle that's any good.

Just "A Novel" though. If it's something more, like Ella Minnow Pea's "A Novel in Letters" or I've seen a couple "A Novel in Poems" 's, that doesn't count.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Aiwendil » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:49 pm UTC

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell: A Novel is among my favourite books.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Kewangji » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:01 pm UTC

Yeah, dozens. Can't remember which, though. Will look when I'm by my bookshelf, if I remember it. I don't think it's a bad thing to do. I believe it says absolutely nothing about the writer or the quality of the book.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby SurgicalSteel » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:32 am UTC

House of Leaves.

Flesh and Blood.

Also, from Yahoo answers: "Title on the cover is to grab the reader. The official title for cataloguing purposes is the title on the title page. The use of the subtitle "a novel" helps to denote it as a work of fiction."
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:03 am UTC

Yes and, next time, before opening your mouth and saying something incredibly stupid, do a little research into why that is tacked on to titles. It's actually a fairly common practice within literary fiction.

Now, perhaps the problem is your lack of ability to fully grasp the 'genre,' and that is certainly understandable; there is a young adult fiction section for a reason, even if misnamed.

But, you know, go ahead and keep spouting off dimwitted tripe. I'm sure people will completely care about your opinion.

Somethings aim to do more than entertain your blithe, narrow-minded ass.

Or, to put this another way. What you just said was some completely inane and utterly stupid that it is a blessing and a privilege for you that I was here to correct you.

That is all. After all, any attempt to refute what was said will just involve you continuing to be more wrong than any human should be allowed.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby felltir » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:30 am UTC

...wow.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Alder » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:40 am UTC

The convention has been around for quite some time...

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Re: "A Novel"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:04 pm UTC

Though to be fair, it's probably at least in part due to that very fact that it seems so pretentious now. Like they're trying to imitate a convention used in "classics" to make their own book seem like it's on par with them.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:52 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Though to be fair, it's probably at least in part due to that very fact that it seems so pretentious now. Like they're trying to imitate a convention used in "classics" to make their own book seem like it's on par with them.

Though, that's still pushing a certain ahistorical view on the matter. In reality it's a very common practice that has always been around in literature. It only seems less common if you aren't familiar with the convention. For one, genre work never really tended to need the distinction. So it neither came of age when the novel wasn't a predominate form of literature or in an age where their was a large variety of different literary works, particularly non-fiction.

Also, King, ever read Slaughterhouse Five? Did you like it? Or, at least think it not crap?
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Scarborough » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:54 am UTC

Doesn't "a novel" also basically tell the reader what they're going to get, even if it's filed under fiction or literature?

As in:
Correction: A Novel
vs.
Where Three Roads Meet: Novellas
vs.
Like You'd Understand Anyway: Stories

Correction: A Novel is a novel that wasn't crap.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:26 pm UTC

I find it's a pretty useful distinction when the author writes in multiple formats. For example, David Foster Wallace wrote Infinite Jest: A Novel, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, and Oblivion: Stories. Wallace was primarily known for his non-fiction when Infinite Jest came out, so it was a useful subtitle.

It also serves as a genre marker for "literary fiction," which tends to be less about plot and narrative and more about characters, psychology, and philosophy. This makes poorly written literary fiction infuriating to read (as opposed to a bad work of genre fiction, which might still have an entertaining story), but there's plenty of really good stuff out there too.
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby ruleeet » Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:06 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:It also serves as a genre marker for "literary fiction," which tends to be less about plot and narrative and more about characters, psychology, and philosophy. This makes poorly written literary fiction infuriating to read (as opposed to a bad work of genre fiction, which might still have an entertaining story), but there's plenty of really good stuff out there too.

Can you provide some examples? I would be interested to give them a read
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Re: "A Novel"

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:49 pm UTC

ruleeet wrote:
TheAmazingRando wrote:It also serves as a genre marker for "literary fiction," which tends to be less about plot and narrative and more about characters, psychology, and philosophy. This makes poorly written literary fiction infuriating to read (as opposed to a bad work of genre fiction, which might still have an entertaining story), but there's plenty of really good stuff out there too.

Can you provide some examples? I would be interested to give them a read

Disgrace By Coetzee.
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (It's better if you don't try to figure out the timeline too much).
Blind Assassin by Atwood
Most of the stuff I've read by Kevin Brockmeier. Daniel Woodrell is also good. --And I'm not just recommending them because of their connection to my University.

Basically, if you pick up the Best American Short Stories collection you're going to find a lot of good literary fiction. Or, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction.

Another hint is if they've been published in The New Yorker, Glimmer Train, or other prominent journals.
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