David Grand’s latest novel, Mount Terminus, was 10 years in the making.
This is and isn’t unusual. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist was 13 years from start to publication, Ulysses six years, Finnegans Wake took 17 — three novels and a collection of short stories over 33 years.
William Dean Howells, on the other hand, published 53 books in a 50-year career. Henry James, too, a bit over a book a year. Stephen King is right around two books a year. Flaubert, though, famously tried to get a good sentence a day.
Fast books and slow books. There is no necessary relation to quality, but I feel one can sense the slow construction of Grand’s Mount Terminus. Like a French sauce, it has deep flavors, the thought and story and emotion reduced to their essences, and a complex, multileveled world results.
Tom’s Book Club (sorry about the third-person-ness of that) begins its discussion tomorrow on Facebook, and our 200 TBC members will be invited to take part. David will be joining us in a number of ways: on audio in a wide-ranging interview with Colin Marshall, on video in a conversation with me, and on Facebook in a conversation with the rest of the Club as well.
We keep experimenting with new platforms and forums for the book club, and we have more tricks up our sleeves for the future. We hope you’ve had time to get started with Mount Terminus, and we’ll try, for the first few days, to limit the spoilers. We hope you will join in the conversation right away, in any way you’d like — a discussion of this novel, of course, but chime in about any of the various issues and themes it touches on, or the state of the novel in our time, of literary culture — just as we like review essays at LARB more than we do straight reviews, we hope the book club conversation will be as broad and engaged as possible.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions, and to future meetings as well. We will be announcing December’s author at the end of the club — a hefty book from one of LA’s legendary noir writers — and a live event that will be part of that meeting.
Our TBC members are the stalwarts of our membership program, and LARB relies on your support. Thank you, and let’s have some serious fun.
– Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz