Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barry Malzberg's champion novel

American science fiction author Barry Malzberg has said that he once wrote a novel in 16 hours - and sold it to a publisher. I've often wondered what the book was and how Malzberg pulled the thing off. It must be the fastest-written novel ever that has been published by a commercial publisher.

Then at the Fictionmags e-mail list there was a discussion of stychomythia (in which someone says something and someone else grabs the sentence and ends it, just like Huey, Louie and Dewey do in Donald Duck). This has been also used in many paperback novels when a writer wanted to fill pages quickly and wrote short sentences that made up a whole paragraph (which may not actually be an example of stychomythia). However, Malzberg wrote on the said list:

I made my own contribution to stychomythia in DIARY OF A PARISIAN CHAMBERMAID, Midwood Books 1969 (my 16-hour novel).
The protagonist wrote a poem.
Quite a long poem.
A long poem of short lines.
It absorbed five pages.
I remember the first line:
"Paris is a nipple."

I asked Malzberg more about this and he wrote back:

[The book in question was] DIARY OF A PARISIAN CHAMBERMAID, by Claudine Dumas. Midwood Books 1969. 60,000 words. Written on St. Valentine's Day that year. I could do something like that in those years. Mozart wrote the Paris Symphony in three days. But I am no Mozart. Nor is DIARY OF A PARISIAN CHAMBERMAID the Paris Symphony.

(I understand there's a NaNoWriMo going on at the moment (National Novel Writing Month, if you don't know). Who needs thirty days to write a novel? 60,000 words! I'd always thought Malzberg's book would've been something like 30,000 words. Me, I've been writing and rewriting a novel of that length for years now!)

Sorry, no picture available! If anyone reading this blog has the said book, send me a scan!

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