Monday, January 28, 2008

To be continued...

I have to admit that I did not read Michael Connelly's The Overlook when it was published in weekly installments in The New York Times. Maybe it's because I'm such a Connelly fan, and the idea of having to wait week after week after week as the story unfolded was simply too much to ask. And I have to admit, I did have more than a sneaking suspicion that he would publish it as a book, sooner or later. I figured I could wait.

The thing is, we've gotten out of the habit of reading serialized fiction. Aside from The Green Mile by Stephen King, which was published in weekly installments, and of course what the Times is doing in their Sunday Magazine, I can't for the life of me recall any other current mainstream serial fiction. It just doesn't happen anymore (although the audiobook The Chopin Manuscript was an interesting case, in this instance originally published as series of audio installments by Oh, I mean I'm sure someone is doing it on the internet, but then again, someone is doing everything on the internet, so you can't go by that. Yet there's a great history of novels published serially, going back at least as far as Charles Dickens. The story is told about his The Old Curiosity Shop, that American readers were standing jam-packed on the dock anxiously waiting for the boat to arrive from England with the installment that told whether Little Nell had lived or died. You don't see that anymore.

Then again, some mainstream TV shows have taken up the serial challenge. Lost, for instance, and Heroes. But still, I still prefer to find out what happens as quickly as possible. Give me a beginning, a middle and an end any day of the week. And more to the point, give them to me on the same day of the week!


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