Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Age of the Monstrous Book

Lately I've been reading a book that I can't yet properly review, European Travels for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss. It's a lovely book with Sherlock Holmes in it, like its predecessor, The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. But I'm only about a quarter of the way into it, which is still a goodly distance, as the book is a hefty 708 pages.

Goss's incarnation of Irene Adler has recently showed up in my reading, and I'm loving her depiction, as with all of the book's characters. The Athena Club books have a charm that was lacking in Alan Moore's shock-jock Victoriana of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and I don't begrudge it the pleasant pace of its ensemble cast ramble. But the sheer heft of picking up the book makes one consider what brought us to this point.

Sure, super-popular authors like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling have been allowed to take books to extreme lengths in the past by their publishers. But I think the digital age is leading us to a place where massive tomes are not all that unusual. If the writers want to go for it, and a large share of readers are buying the book to read on their smartphone or tablet, where weight isn't an issue, size doesn't really matter as much as it once might have. And no one is going to complain of getting to see too much of favorite characters. Some of the massive ongoing fanfics out there amply demonstrate that.

Ross Davies' Baker Street Almanac is demonstrating that the big, fat book isn't just limited to the fiction shelves, though its PDF is a whopper that your device might groan under the weight of, if such things could groan. As the government and tech industry discovered with gigantic manuals, ink-and-paper isn't always the most cost-efficient means of getting the words out, but there are still enough book lovers out there that some things will always need to get that classic treatment.

And that means some of us will be wandering the house, strengthening our wrists as we read in the early morning hours . . . which is, at least, some exercise for a devoted bookworm.

No comments:

Post a Comment