Novels in Short Stories
Posted by: Misha Stone
While neither book is advertised as such, it occurred to me that two novels I read recently had chapters that could be read as self-contained short stories: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman.
A Visit from the Goon Squad centers on two characters–music producer Bennie and his old assistant Sasha–but each chapter introduces other people in their lives, both intimates and peripherals. There is also a fantastic chapter in PowerPoint, that is maddeningly tear-inducing (how did Egan do it?).
In Rachman’s debut, The Imperfectionists, each chapter delves into the life of a different person who worked or has been associated with an English-language newspaper in Rome.
What I loved about both books is that each chapter brought a new character, a new perspective or vantage from which to view other characters and events.
I love books with multiple narrators, but in this case, because most chapters in both were third person narration, I simply loved multiple perspectives.
One book my book group has scheduled for later next year is novel that has been advertised as being linked short stories: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I have heard good things about this book and am looking forward to reading and discussing it.
What I am wondering is if novels made up of short stories are any more difficult to discuss? Anyone have experience with this? Anyone else read any other books that successfully used this format? Interested to hear from you…