Wednesday, August 08, 2007

1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32....

The talk about Harry Potter some time ago got me thinking about how much I like serialized novels. It is so satisfying to come back to characters you enjoy, and even better to know when you're reading a book that your investment in the story will pay off because there's more to come! This format seems to be more prevalent in children's literature, and in fact the books I adored from childhood were all series (Anne of Green Gables, Narnia, Wrinkle in Time, Little Women, Babysitters' Club). Even my nom d'blog is derived from a serialized children's novel harking back to my mother's childhood obsession. But unless I'm missing something, the trend is not as common in adult literature, especially when you venture beyond genre novels. The last series of adult books I really loved was Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy, a fantastic set of books about World War I. There's Paul Auster's New York trilogy, but I must admit that while I loved the first, I fizzled out after the second and haven't gotten to the third. I suppose some of Philip Roth's books could be considered series, but I haven't read enough featuring the same character to be sure. Speed McQueen sped like a demon through all five books of John Updike's Rabbit series last summer, so maybe I should try those. What am I missing? Have any of you read serialized novels you've loved?

9 comments:

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

Thought of two more, graphic novels, though: Maus and Persepolis.

Betty & Bimbo said...

Great post, Nancy D.! You know, I think we could keep reading the Babysitter's Club if we wanted to. Have they hit 500 volumes yet?

I don't know about serialized books for adults. Dickens' have all been consolidated. I'm still skeptical of the serial as a thing in our day and age. The Auster and Roth ones are only tenuously related, the "trilogy" idea just seems like a pretentious marketing ploy to get you to buy all three. Why not just write a suspenseful novel?

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

You should try these Pat Barker books. They are definitely related enough to be "real" serials, but they each stand alone as well. And they are great books about what it means to be at war, what an individual's obligations are.

Betty & Bimbo said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

I am also waiting for the next installment of Dylan's "Chronicles".
The first one was awesome!

Betty & Bimbo said...

There is also Proust, but you need more time for that than for Harry Potter, I think.

Betty & Bimbo said...

Also, what about books by one author that are technically individual volumes, but are really more or less the same book? I think these yield the same kind of pleasure as serials. Sometimes it even seems like the author has just assigned new names to the same old characters, new locales to the same old places! I'm thinking of Philip Roth, John Grisham, and Matt Christopher here. All authors I have enjoyed at different stages in my life.

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

Good point. I would throw Jane Austen into that mix.

amanda said...

Anne M Martin (babysitter's club author) will be publishing a new series (still for children) that take place in Maine (Camden Falls area). She has to write four books per year (she said that her publishing schedule for Babysitter's Club was one per month!).

Betty & Bimbo said...

wow, what will it be called?

i think she didn't write all teh BSC club books herself.