Call them novellas, call them chapbooks, call them whatever you want, i dig them. At the current moment, walking through my research, they're just the right size, and often sleek and without the fat you can find on larger books. The only downside is that they can run into being expensive, especially those PS Publishing books. I keep wondering why cheap versions of that size aren't done, why somewhere out there isn't getting these things and mass producing them, but there's probably some reason. Financial, whatever. But you know, it seems to me that no one makes disposable fiction anymore, and that there's always this sense that books--any book--has got to last. Just looking at some seven hundred page fantasy novel fills you with this sense of time and weight and makes you think that it's likely to live longer than you once you've finished with it.
At any rate, I read, at some time over the weekend, Lucius Shepard's Two Trains Running, which was a hundred and twenty pages or so in length. Most of the length of the book was made up of the novella 'Over Yonder', which is the reason to buy it, but there's also a short story, 'Jailbait', and an article, 'The FTRA Story'. The article is the link for the two pieces of fiction, as Shepard's research into the train hobos for it lead to the two stories, and it is this that begins the collection. It's not a bad article, and reads in places like Shepard's fiction, and since I've never spent much time reading about the train hobos of America, I found enough in it to be interesting. Of the fiction that was inspired from it, the last, 'Jailbait', is on the minor side. It's about the train hobo, Madcat, and his relationship with a young girl, and who is the reason for the title, and, well, it's just minor. It's not bad, it's not great, there's some nice writing, and you'll forget it by the end of the day.
But that's okay, because there's the large piece, the centre of the book, 'Over Yonder'. It's the story of Billy Long Gone, who chases down a man who stole his dog, ends up in a black train the likes he has never seen before, and ends up in a strange little outpost of a town, which allows for Shepard to explore the ideas of settling, of finding some point in your life which, despite a few problems, is comfortable, and just staying there. It is, really, a fine piece, and has a really nice narrative structure to open it, which, while being simple, is quite affective.
It was a good way to spend the afternoon. A nice bit of quick, disposable fiction, a couple of hours that I didn't waste watching some piece of shit film like The Day After Tomorrow.
Which, no, I haven't seen. But please.