Re: RARA-AVIS: Does size matter? (was Best films: Smith and all)

From: George Upper (
Date: 13 Nov 2001

--- Mario Taboada <> wrote:
> Size doesn't matter. I've just finished (yet
> another)
> superb Carl Wilcox novel by Harold Adams, which
> tells the
> story in about 200 pages, which feels absolutely
> right.

I'm in the middle of JDM's THE BRASS CUPCAKE (1950) because 1. someone (Mr. T?) mentioned that it's one of his best and 2. the murder victim is from Boston, so I thought it might have a greater Boston element than it apparently has. Anyway, I just noticed that many of JDM's Gold Medal publications seem to run 176 pages, including front material. I seem to remember learning at some point that all books have or had a number or pages evenly divisible by eight because of the way they are / were bound.

Anyway, I flipped through a number of JDM Gold Medals.
 They were all either 176 or 208 pages long, but the typeface varied considerably, and there was very little white space. Compare that to Parker, for example, who's works seem to have larger and larger type faces and margins as the years have gone by. I'm sure this is about publishing--editors now want books of 400+ pages, whereas Faucett was trying to spend as little money on paper as possible so as to make a profit at 50 cents a copy.

This may, however, tend to explain some of attitudes towards these two writers. We tend to talk about JDM in terms of tight writing, Parker in terms of "fluff"
(yes, I know I'm generalizing; forgive me if you disagree with one or both of those statements.) While I can back up both of those statements based solely on their writing, I have to believe that the presentation of their writing also comes to bear on our analysis of these writers. JDM does not seem to be wasting any space (on the page), whereas Parker clearly is.

Just a thought.


===== George C. Upper III, Editor The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal

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