More serialized novels, please.



Dave Eggers has a new novel coming out—sort of.

McSweeney’s just announced The Forgetters, which is described as something which “will someday be a probably-overlong novel by Dave Eggers; when the whole thing will be finished is anyone’s guess. But in the meantime, we’re releasing standalone, short-story-sized portions of the book as beautiful mini hardcovers.” And the project has been underway longer than anyone knew: the first installment, The Museum of Rain, was published in 2021.

There are some obvious responses to this news which depend on how you feel about Eggers and McSweeney’s (a favorite I heard was from a friend who said, “this is why you start a beloved indie press, so you can release beautiful versions of your vanity project 20 years in”) but regardless of your tolerance for twee, the idea is one I’d like to see repeated. Serialization is fun! Remember The Green Mile? It was a blast to head to my local Borders (it was 1996, I was too young to know about indie bookstores) and get each little paperback as they were released. I still have them all in their free slipcase.

To be fair: it’s not like serialization ever completely went away—comic books certainly do it well, and TV is of course a serial format even in the binge era. And magazines and newspapers have always been serializing both non-fiction and fiction, although recent highlights like Gagosian Quarterly releasing stories by Percival Everett and Venita Blackburn over the course of a year or INQUE splitting up a new Jonathan Lethem novel over its projected ten issues feel like exciting new adventures in the form. Still, it feels like we’re a far cry from the days when mobs stormed the docks to learn whether Little Nell survived, or tuned in en masse at 9pm (8pm Central) to see who killed Laura Palmer. I suppose the closest feeling to that these days is when an author releases the latest title in a long-running series (hello Sarah J. Maas fans, we see you) but an installment in a series isn’t quite the same as an installment of a single, self-contained story.

So, authors, we ask you: why not release bits of your book as flyers on telephone poles around your hometown, or as anonymous mailings to readers around the world? Maybe then we’ll all wake up in a world where Donna Tartt or Neil Gaiman decide to release their long-awaited next novels as a series of chapbooks, or something else unimaginably cool and utterly thrilling.



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