Oxford American: Ten Great Very Short Books Picked by Kevin Brockmeier

I don’t think the website includes Brockmeier’s article yet, but I just got the latest Oxford American, courtesy of the editors, and it includes a fascinating list of books under 100 pages, in alpha order by author, that Brockmeier really likes. I’m on it, but that’s not why it’s fascinating–it’s fascinating to me because Aira shows up yet again in my life, three times in less than a week, and because Monterroso is in our book of weird, and because so many of the others I hadn’t heard of but sound really interesting. I’m not going to reproduce Brockmeier’s text about each, but here’s the list.

I’ve only read a version of 4 and also 8, so if anyone has read the others (besides 9, which is a real stinker), please give us some intel!

1- Cesar Aria – An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

2 – Bohumil Hrabal – Closely Watched Trains

3 – Rebecca Lee – Bobcat

4 – Augusto Monterroso – The Black Sheep and Other Fables

5 – Grant Morrison – We3

6 – Ben Rice – Poppy and Dingan

7 – Emma Straub – Fly-Over State

8 – Mark Twain – The Diaries of Adam and Eve

9 – JeffV – The Situation

10 – Alejandro Zambra – Bonsai


  1. Eric Schalldog says

    I only just recently read Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve, inspired to do so after reading an essay by Le Guin in which she discussed how this was one of her favorite books when young and that it still stood up quite well. Loved it and now consider it one of my favorite pieces by Twain. Read it on my Kindle, because one could download the complete works of Twain for a pittance, but was so taken with the illustrations for the Diaries of Eve that I went an ordered a first edition–not one of Twain’s better known works so it can be found quite reasonably priced.–Eric

  2. says

    I read We3 last year and thought it was excellent. It’s also gutwrenching if you have had/lost pets. I’m looking forward to reading what Brockmeier thinks of it.

  3. GabrielM says

    Ben Rice’s book is very good, but I’m pretty sure it’s POBBY AND DINGAN, not POPPY AND DINGAN.

  4. Steve Tem says

    Thanks for posting this. I’m an absolute sucker for books under 100 pages, and now must seek out and buy every one of these.

  5. Nick S. says

    I have to chime in with some love for Bohumil Hrabal. He’s similar in style to his better-known fellow Czech Milan Kundera (in fact, he was an influence on Kundera), but more folksy and fabulist that overtly philosophical. Closely Watched Trains (also an excellent film) and the longer I Served the King of England read like a mix of fable, gentle satire and picaresque. Reading Hrabal is like listening to a rambling but always fascinating tall tale.