For the Love of the Chunkster

Dear Readers:

I have a confession to make. It is a confession that is so monstrous, so remarkably horrid, that your view of me will forever be marred.

*Takes deep breath*

I have never read The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

[I know what you’re thinking: “and here she is, this imposter, purporting to be a FANTASY blogger, no less!”]

Before you pass too hasty a judgment, let it be known that I have watched the Peter Jackson movies and loved them to bits, over and over again. And I read The Hobbit, so really, I feel like I know Bilbo Baggins PRETTY well. It’s not the same, I know. But it’s a start.

On three separate attempts I have made it, at best, about halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring. My excuse for not finishing it? It was TOO DARNED LONG. Too much valuable reading time had to be spent on the series, whereas I could read 15 or so smaller books in the same time bracket! But in my heart of hearts, I know this is a lie.
In truth, if you look at which books I love and have enjoyed the most, refusing to read a book because it is “too long” is laughable. For my very reading existence is almost completely dependent on my love for a particular type of book: for the love of the CHUNKSTER!

I define a chunkster as a book that has at least 500-600 pages, average size font.

Why do I love them? Well, there is something deliciously satisfying about reading a book that gives me the proper amount of time to immerse myself in the story, wallow about in its glorious filth. To know the characters through an intense description of a frock worn, to know a world as it is built, brick by brick around me. And, of course, I feel pretty awesome when I finish something that requires so much time and effort to get through.

Some of my fave chunksters:

Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett is a magnificent choice in the chunkster realm. To understand the passion and architectural skill of building a Gothic cathedral, while all these people’s lives are carrying on around it, is just mesmerising to me. After reading that book, I felt like I had built the church myself – ’tis a great feeling of accomplishment;
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, is 1000 pages or so of mind-numbing faerie Victoriana brilliance;
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, sends me into a spin just thinking about it;
And I have just read Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, and been absolutely blown away by its intricate content, its romantic Sci Fi, its literary awesomeness. No wonder it won the Booker Prize.

I am also super pleased to report that the fashion of the chunkster doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere fast. The obsession with mass fantasy reads like Harry Potter and Twilight meant that each book in the series had to be larger than the last, to satisfy the starving fans. And you only have to look at 2009’s Booker shortlist to see that chunksters are still considered worthy literary reads (I’m currently digging my way through Wolf Hall with mounting enthusiasm). So, to come full circle – I don’t know why I can’t get through Lord of the Rings. I’m going to try again, mid-year, and let you know the results. As long as another chunkster doesn’t steal my attention… (here’s hoping!)

How do you feel about chunksters? To me, you’re in one of two camps: you adore the chunkster and all that it stands for, or you fear them to the depths of your soul and avoid them like the plague.

Which is it for you? Team Love? Or Team Fear?

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Aimee Burton

Aimee Burton is a lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. This blog will be her escape from reality, and hopefully it'll inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she's always promising her friends is "almost halfway" done.

5 thoughts on “For the Love of the Chunkster”

  1. Maybe you can’t get through The Lord of the Rings because it’s boring! I read it just before the films came out… and I thought it was boring. The films were way better. Okay… now I sit back and wait for all the hate-mail to come streaming in from the Tolkien fans. 😉

  2. I am an unashamed LOTR fan but I dislike things that others love. I even have a brother who supports Collingwood (stand by for projectile vomiting). I do agree that Fellowship of the Ring does not have nearly the action of the 2nd and 3rd books.

    What I object to is authors producing size for the sake of size – phat fantasy. Snoozeville.

    As for Rowling increasing the size of HP for the fans, I think it was more a case of big selling author being allowed to get away with less editing. I read one that could have lost easily a third. We plebs at the bottom of the food chain have to put up with editors calling all the shots, no matter how silly, such as the clown who insisted on replacing my near-future sci fi character’s reference to ‘texting’ with ‘telegram’. He published it that way despite my objections. grrrr

  3. Collingwood, blech. How I loathe football – haha! Don’t mind Union though, if I must be forced to like one of the codes.

    Perhaps then, I should have read LOTR backwards, and skipped Fellowship til the end, when I felt like some laidback reading.

    And I agree about J.K. Rowling’s being allowed to go crazy on the non-editing…oh to be her! I can’t believe though, that they changed texting to telegram! It sounds almost Victorian that way! or at least 1940s. Though perhaps I can understand that the term ‘texting’ would date the book??

  4. Well we still had telegrams in the 1980s as my parents sent me one for me 21st. I had successfully managed to keep it secret from the boyz in the footy club, but the bloke from the post office who delivered it to work was one of my clubmates. So I was dragged, kicking and screaming, down to the pub after training that night. Less said about my state the following morning, the better. But the point of the story was that telegrams still existed a lot later than the 1940s!

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