Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night fits into a messenger bag, can be read in less than three hours, and plays in your thoughts for days and days. A most satisfying big book in a thin binding. The story of a more senior man and woman who make their way through loneliness and long nights by creating a special relationship.

Haruf, who usually worked for six or seven years on a book, completed Our Souls at Night in less than five months when he had only months to live. His wife Cathy said he created his characters out of compassion and love, even the ‘bad’ ones. That compassion for the human state saturates his works whether 48,000 words or 75,000 words in length.

There have always been great stories told in slim word counts. Students study the classics—Sula, Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men among others. Tinkers, a debut novel of 47,750 words by Paul Harding, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is less the 35,000 words.

Although not knowingly facing the imminent end of my life, I challenged myself in 2021 to write a novel of less than 50,000 words in nine months. The story would have only two characters of different generations, privately working through personal issues. The original title focused on decisions made in a heartbeat with a working title of something like 72 Times, the number of times the human heart beats in a minute. That title proved inadequate as the characters developed.

Some weeks we grab or order the heaviest book on a shelf to fill our reading times. And some special days we let ourselves choose a slim volume for a few hours of pleasure. I hope to add to the available titles. Stay safe.

From My Blog