Name a Book That Dragged on Too Long—or Ended Too Soon
Les Misérables. Many have complained about the detours in that book. I didn't mind any of them that much until he began introducing Marius's friends so we would have a sense of them before they died. It was a long list of this guy did this, that guy liked that, another remarked and teased about so-and-so. It was awful.
No book I liked was ever too long.
And few books that dragged too long were memorable enough to criticize here. And if it was bad enough, for any reason, I cast it aside and forgot about it! I feel no obligation to finish a book that has clearly fallen short, for any reason. The author gets the benefit of the doubt, but it is not unlimited.
I suppose The Stand by Stephen King was too long. That was the one that made me give up on him. Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein was too long, self-indulgent, senile sex fantasies. Even so, it had its good parts.
2666 by Roberto Bolaño was very long, but I would happily have had another 100 pages. Same with War and Peace. Same with Bleak House. Same with The Man Without Qualities. Some long books are like worlds you inhabit, and you are forced to leave them when they end.
The Goldfinch is too long (take out the trip to Vegas)! Also I enjoyed first couple Cormoran Strike books but they are way too long and need to be edited. Same with Elizabeth George. I am a huge mystery fan and have read her books for decades but the last 4-5 books have been at least 200 pages to long. I think the more successful the author, the less edited they are and it shows....
At over 1300 pages, Norman Mailer's HARLOT'S GHOST is too short. Because the last three words are "to be continued" and Mailer died without writing the sequel. I vent about it here:
I read *Ahab's Wife* this year and felt "This is really well-written" and "When is it ever going to be over" almost simultaneously almost the whole time.
I found Don Quixote far too long, it was getting a bit tedious by the end. I notice someone has already pointed out Les Miserables - I was there for the hundred pages on a fictional order of nuns, but was thoroughly routed by the Battle of Waterloo.
Aside from that, I've never read a P. G. Wodehouse novel I wanted to end, and I've always wished that The Man Who Was Thursday had gone on for a bit longer.
Grapes of Wrath should have taken a shortcut on US 66. A third too long, at least.
"The Demon Tide" could almost cut its first 200 pages: a complete plot cul-de-sac. As much as I love YA fantasy world building, I found myself skimming this one.
"The 7 (1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle" could have gone on for another 100 pages, and I'd be happy. I felt so frustrated at the end that we don't get to see more of that world. (That's not the point of the book, so I understand why we're not given that, but I still want it!)
War & Peace. I know, I know! The philosophy-history blah blah blah is part of the point. But I wish someone would do a smart abridgment that actually told the story and maybe left in 1/3rd of the historical proselytizing. Keep some of it in there so we get the point, but not so that we get bogged down. It took me 20 years to finally read it.
OK, not great literature, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has about 200 pages too many in the middle. The characters move from place to place, and nothing advances the plot. I read it when it first came out, and I figured Rowling was so big by then that no editor dared do his or her job and cut the fat.
Too short a novel - Dickens' Mystery of Edwin Drood. I'm cheating, because he died before he could finish it, but what an fantastic start!
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the last chapters when Tom Sawyer reappears are an agony.
I have been brought to tears at the ending of more than a couple of novels by Fannie Flagg. She has the ability to pull me into a story so much so that I don't want to leave.
I agree, no book i liked was ever too long, in fact one wished for it to never end. So i suppose a book i had great expectations of and was disappointed with and seemed to go on and on with characters that were not endearing. The obvious consequences to me were apparent in the beginning. The book is Anna Karenina and i am expecting many thumbs down on this opinion:) maybe its Tolstoy? Or the story has cruel infidelity and a narcissic male character?( the Russian class system of the time was interesting ) I enjoy Dostoyevsky. S.Rushdie books come a close second, dare i say, being a Brit also, i never liked Jane Austin either, girl gets rich man( That should start a debate:)
I picked it as one of my best reads of 2023, and it is well-deserving of that honor, but Matthew Barrett's The Reformation as Renewal is nearly 900 pages and probably could have been about half of that length. It's a truly great book, but I'm afraid its bulkiness will inhibit the number of readers it deserves.
Too short: Chesterton's Orthodoxy. Anyone who has read or reread it, will Amen my selection.
Some years ago, in the middle of reading Marilynne Robinson's Home, the second of the Gilead novels, I made the comment, "Part of me never wants this book to end. And part of me scarcely wants to go on, for fear of collapse." Well, I didn't collapse (that may have been an overstatement but I was being deeply affected by it) and I did finish reading it (I was never not going to) but the moment the final words were read was the kind of moment that seems to expand indefinitely, holding the work inside the soul in some kind of animated suspension.
Did you not feel if you met Mrs Bennett on the street you would instantly recognize her? P&P is easily the most loved of Auten's books, but the others (excluding MP which is way too long) are all very good and Lady Susan is a comic masterpiece.