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All Thriller, No Filler

In Vancouver, the third entry in Nick Earls’ series of five linked novellas, the Wisdom Tree, Knut Knutsen, a former high school football champion, who in later life has become a celebrated microfiction author, praises the narrator’s decision to focus on writing novels. He says:

The novel is the only sensible choice and the short story the least foolish of the others. Microfiction? Novellas? Two different kinds of sophistry. Ask any publisher. They’re the kind of thing that’ll see you committed to the furthest liberal arts college from the Flatiron Building.

Vancouver is the only novella in the Wisdom Tree to focus on fiction writers and their craft, the only one to reference to the term ‘novella’ in fact, and it feels like an appropriate point in the sequence for this kind of explicit reflection, as if Earls is encouraging the reader to think about size and length and the expectations that they create, both in terms of narrative and our sense of value. In Vancouver we get references to Hemingway’s reputation for brevity, Gordon Lish’s ruthless editing of Raymond Carver’s stories – where ‘heart’ and ‘sentimentality’ are sacrificed for ‘truth’ – and Richard Ford’s famous aversion to the word ‘novella’ itself. The character of Knut Knutsen provides an obvious focal point for this exploration. Standing over two metres tall, he commanded the narrator’s imagination as a child, entering his home as a literal giant, ‘the Colossus of Rhodes’, and when they meet again, years later, still excites him as a literary giant, part of a possible chain or tradition that connects with the work of Carver and Hemingway. Knut’s actual life as a giant presents a contrast with this idealised image. Physically, he is often uncomfortable, forced to contort himself to fit into smaller spaces, while his literary career has seen him adopt shorter and shorter forms – from a single novel to story collections to microfiction. As an ‘impossibly tall’ man he occupies an outsized presence, too large for the world that he lives in – and yet in his work he is dedicated to focus and precision, stripping away the extraneous detail. Like the form of the novella itself, perhaps, Knut presents a simultaneously remarkable and awkward figure: appearing, at least on the surface, to be too long in some respects, too short in others.

The Wisdom Tree itself provides a similarly fascinating contrast between the ambition of Earls’ overall project and the surprising, almost refreshing modesty of each of its instalments. The sequence as a whole feels like a bold and, by now, very well-publicised literary experiment: a series of five linked novellas, published at the rate of one a month between June and September 2016. The novellas themselves, on the other hand, offer quiet and very calm narratives, largely free of explicit conflict or drama. While their locations and circumstances vary, the narrators of each entry are fairly similar: white, male, middle-class Australians, each of them at an uneasily (though never dangerously) precarious point in their lives. In the first novella, Gotham, this is Jeff, a music journalist with a seriously ill daughter, who is in New York to interview Na$ti Boi, an emerging 19-year old hip-hop artist. The second, Venice, is told from the perspective of Ryan, an unemployed civil engineer now living in Brisbane with his artist sister (who is currently vying to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale) and her dentist husband, and serving as an unofficial nanny for their four-year-old son. In Vancouver, Paul is a recently published novelist, whose narrative is split between his recollections of his encounters with Knut as a child and his reconnection with him as an adult, as he undergoes his first, underwhelming book tour in the United States and Canada in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The narrator of Juneau, Tim, is accompanying his father to a small town in Alaska to discover the fate of his great-great-uncle, who vanished in the nineteenth century, and Charlie, in the final instalment NoHo, is a teenager living in L.A. with his mother and sister while the latter pursues her dreams of Hollywood stardom.

Earls does not attempt any ventriloquist tricks with his narrators: they have almost identical voices and similar personalities and they face – in at least some regards – very similar problems. The Wisdom Tree tends to focus on its characters as they reflect on the nature of family, both its obligations and all-too-frequent failings, and struggle to make meaningful connections within their contemporary lives, with loved ones, strangers, and personal and cultural histories. This sameness or consistency feels central to the project. What the novellas offer, one after the other, are variations on a theme, and the overall impact of the project is understated but cumulative. As similar difficulties and preoccupations in the lives of the different protagonists become apparent, this awareness encourages a deeper and more thoughtful re-examination of the issues that they touch upon.

The connections between the novellas support this work. Characters cross from one narrative to another, and there is an artwork that appears in multiple titles. Natalie, mentioned in Gotham by Jeff as an ex-girlfriend, is revealed to be Ryan’s sister in Venice. Knut’s first and only novel was about the life of his grandfather in Alaska, who turns out to have been a friend or possibly a lover of Tim’s long-vanished great-great uncle in Juneau. Tim was once Ryan’s manger and has now been retrenched himself. These links are enjoyable to detect. Importantly, though, the Wisdom Tree is not operating as a novel-in-stories and its successive entries do not provide the puzzle-pieces of a larger narrative, nor Rashomon-style reinterpretations of incidents and scenes. Rather the links between the stories work to unite the sequence as a whole – but they also subtly reinforce the isolation of its characters. Their stories intersect in ways that they cannot detect, and they remain largely unaware of how their lives brush up against others who are undergoing similar experiences, who have similar voices and preoccupations.

Gotham establishes many of the thematic touchstones of the series with great efficiency. Like several of the protagonists who follow him, Jeff is feeling pressure due to unreliable employment. This is a consistent undercurrent of tension that runs through his narrative. A freelance music journalist, he is struggling to meet the costs of his daughter’s medical treatment, and so he has a lot riding on his interview with Na$ti Boi (formerly Lydell Luttrell Junior), which he has already sold, in multiple formats, to a range of outlets. The challenge, as Jeff puts it, is to convince or cajole the artist into saying something new or genuine, something that goes beyond their pre-packaged media identity: ‘Sometimes you lurk for hours, like a twitcher in a hide, for a flash of something, a true moment yet to have a witness.’ The interview itself serves as Gotham’s centrepiece, with Jeff attempting to break through his subject’s commitment to the immediate present. Their conversation is mediated by Lydell’s cousin and manager, Smokey, who is able to expertly police Jeff’s questions and Lydell’s mood, despite being distracted by the imminent birth of his second child.

The dialogue between these characters is handled masterfully, it’s always direct and amiable on the surface, yet informed by their shifting personal and professional agendas. Despite his best efforts to enter the interview without preconceptions, Jeff first takes a slightly condescending attitude towards Na$ti Boi/Lydell. He refers to him, internally, as ‘the Boy Pharaoh’ as he watches him shop at Bloomingdales. He quickly finds that the young rapper is not easily led. Na$ti Boi/Lydell playfully angles to establish his dominance in the conversation, determined to focus on his current accomplishments and future goals. He teases Jeff by saying that he prefers to sit facing backwards when he travels so that he can look back on where he’s come from – but he refuses to share anything specific about that journey. Na$ti Boi/Lydell is not always able to resist the pull of the past: one of the purchases that he makes at Bloomingdales is an expensive handbag for his dead mother. Smokey bounces back and forth between Jeff and  Na$ti Boi, adapting, mollifying, redirecting, allowing Jeff the occasional scrap of unique information then politely but firmly shutting down other lines of inquiry. Smokey is LyDell’s employee – someone whom his boss will, reluctantly, ‘let off the clock for a while’ to see his wife in hospital – but he is also a family member and perhaps even a father figure, as he intimates to Jeff at the end of the novella: ‘… that boy… he’s just a boy, and it’s so dangerous sometimes. I want to help him be a man, you know. We all do whatever to bring our kids up, yeah? Give them whatever. Whatever it takes.’

The enjoyably challenging three-way conversation between these characters is maintained throughout most of the novella. If tensions occur they never bubble over into outright hostility. The parties to the interview do not forge any unexpected bonds, experience transcendent moments of connection, or emerge with profound new insights. Even when Jeff and his daughter unexpectedly encounter Smokey and his son on the morning after the interview in the novella’s beautiful closing moments, Smokey is still careful to clarify exactly what is and isn’t on the record – ‘This is just us talking, right?’ Nor do we even get clear resolution on the outcome or meaning of the interview itself – Jeff is broadly unsuccessful in getting Na$ti to volunteer any substantial information about his past, but this is not presented as any significant failing. Despite revealing hints of complexity, self-awareness and vulnerability, Na$ti/Lydell’s abiding regret at the end of the story is for two pairs of cargo pants left unpurchased at Bloomingdales – not his lost mother, not his causing Smokey to miss the birth of his second child.

Earls lets Gotham’s central conversations play out naturally, exploring the nuances, hidden agendas and ambiguities that might operate in a dialogue between characters who occupy occasionally contradictory professional roles and identities, but without feeling the need to have them build towards anything definitive or climatic. Scenes in both novels and short stories are usually beholden to either a larger or tighter structure that requires them to deliver development of character and drama, inciting incidents, catalysers, cardinal functions. The odd, sometimes awkwardly in-between length of a novella allows the author to provide depth for its own sake. When not every detail has to be significant in a fictional work the reader is encouraged or challenged to puzzle out what might be significant and why.

The most successful novellas in the Wisdom Tree are those that feature similar interactions between their narrators and other characters who – while not exactly in conflict with them – nonetheless see the world slightly differently and are able to add something to their perspective or challenge them in some way. Knut Knutsen serves this function in Vancouver, first occupying a larger-than-life role in the narrator’s reminiscences of his childhood, and then re-emerging as a more sober and precise figure as an adult. After a meandering start, NoHo gets going when, halfway through, Charlie is stranded in a gallery and is forced to engage in a protracted conversation and negotiation with a middle-aged guard, Wanda, which eventually touches on questions surrounding art, perception, work, security, and, once again, family.

The two – to my mind – weaker novellas in the Wisdom Tree also revolve around a detailed and extended interaction or conversation, but these are less complex and demanding. In Juneau the narrator is a little more removed, positioned as a witness to his father’s exchanges with a local historian about their long-vanished ancestor. The relegation of Tim, the narrator, to the status of observer speaks to the difficulties of communication and connection that exist between the father and son – but Juneau lacks the dynamism of the key interactions mentioned above, the sense that the narrator’s authority is being subtly contested.

This lack is more pronounced in the second novella, Venice, which suffers in immediate comparison to the first volume. The narrator in this entry is partnered with Harrison, his four-year-old nephew, for much of the narrative, and this interaction presents him with a puzzle – how to understand the boy’s emotions and responses, how to connect with him – rather than a challenge to his own voice or perspective. Harrison’s parents, the two other significant characters in the story, are treated rather thinly, understood only in terms of their apparent neglect of their son and their unintentionally condescending attitude towards the narrator. Venice is the only one of the novellas where the narrator easily gets away with being the Only Sensitive Person (to borrow Richard Yates’ line from ‘Builders’), and the only one that left me wondering if it might not have worked better as a short story, as something lean, focused and impactful. Just as the length of the novella allows for depth and complexity in Gotham and Vancouver, it also reveals the shortcomings of the scenario and the characterisation presented in Venice, with everything aligning a little too easily with the narrator’s disaffected point of view, with his self-promoting sister and wine-obsessed brother-in-law providing broad and ultimately unsatisfying targets.

Earls’ success in finding unexpectedly complex nuances in the voices and outlooks of secondary characters makes his occasional failure to do so more pronounced, and this has an impact on the larger themes that work to unite the sequence. A preoccupation with family runs through all of the volumes of the Wisdom Tree, and fatherhood receives a deep, multifaceted examination, through the perspectives and concerns of Jeff and Smokey in Gotham; the powerful if misguided ambition of Paul’s father in Vancouver; the almost insurmountable distance and reserve of Tim’s father in Juneau; the subtle void left by the absence of Charlie’s father in NoHo. Mothers receive less attention, being either dead (Lydell/Na$ti Boi’s mother in Gotham and Tim’s in Juneau), relegated to the background (Paul’s mother in Vancouver and Jeff’s wife, in Gotham), or presented as neglectful (Natalie in Venice and Charlie’s mother in NoHo).  It would be unfair, of course, to argue that every character’s voice and perspective should be explored in depth. Indeed the connections between the novellas work to complicate this to some degree – while Natalie appears rather shallow in Venice, the presence of her installation art in NoHo and the impact that it has on Charlie may challenge this impression. However, the cumulative effect of this series meant that I was more alert to the occasional movements in which characters occupied more simplistic or functional roles.

Much has already been written on the novella as a form, particularly with regard to the challenge of distinguishing it in a definitive way from a long story or a short novel. Richard Ford’s ‘Why Not a Novella?’ in the Granta Book of the American Long Story describes his investigation of the term and his eventual failure to arrive at a satisfactory contemporary definition. In his afterword to Different Seasons, Stephen King discusses the problems that the novella creates from a publishing perspective, with work that fails to fit cleanly into the categories of short story or novel becoming stranded in the publication limbo that is the ‘anarchy-ridden literary banana republic called the “novella”’ until they can be condensed or expanded to a commercially viable length.  More recently Ian McEwan has written in praise of the form in the New Yorker, arguing that it is perfectible in a way that the novel is not, allowing space for a narrative to breathe and to reach a sufficient level of detail, while demanding precision and economy in its construction.

Australian novelist A.S. Patric wrote about novellas in Kill Your Darlings earlier this year. He broadly agrees with McEwan that the successful novella can achieve something like literary perfection – but also notes that the form can encompass almost anything that is too long to be published as short story in journals or magazines but which falls below the 60,000 words understood as the vague threshold for a novel. Patric also observes that while novellas are not particularly visible that does not mean they are not published. Rather they are not recognised or marketed as novellas. Those on the shorter end will be bundled into story collections, while those that are longer will be formatted to fill the pages of a conventionally-sized print book.

There seems little consensus as to whether novellas have any formal qualities, aside from length, that distinguish them from short stories or novel length works. In ‘Why Not a Novella?’ Richard Ford considers the novella as it was defined by German writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when it first became broadly popular and widely discussed as a form. This group understood the novella to be a work of realist fiction that dealt with a single suspenseful event, situation or conflict, that built towards a turning point for its protagonist and a logical yet surprising resolution. Of course such a definition hardly excludes the structure and subject matter of many short stories and novels, and there are also plenty of novellas which lack this particular kind of focus and development. Thinking of the novella as a meeting point between short and long-form fiction, one that combines the focus and precision of the former with the greater scope afforded by the latter, might be a better starting point. This approach would, however, define the novella as an offspring or combination, rather than as a form with its own unique properties.

Peter Pierce, in his review of the Wisdom Tree for the Sydney Morning Herald, begins with Howard Nemerov’s discussion of the qualities of the masterpieces that define the tradition of the novella: a tragic tone, economy of form and an often fatal dependency between two characters. As Pierce immediately notes, however, this doesn’t necessarily account for Earls’ approach. The novellas of the Wisdom Tree often express a muted sadness, but their tone could never be characterised as tragic, and the relationships that they focus on are not dependencies so much as complex, shifting interactions between characters who have been brought together by chance and circumstance. Indeed the Wisdom Tree narratives deliberately eschew the kinds of dramatic development and the sense of inevitability that Nemerov associates with the novella.

Earls himself has been fairly cautious in interviews about offering a comprehensive definition, tending to focus on the opportunity that the form offers to provide depth and detail within a relatively contained narrative. This is certainly an affordance offered by the novella that Earls uses to great effect, but one that cannot really be taken as its defining feature. There are plenty of works that could be classified as novellas that go fast rather than deep, piling up developments, complications and drama. Dostoevsky’s The Gambler springs to mind, but also the long tradition of novella-length science fiction, crime, fantasy and horror works published in pulp magazines and other serials. James Patterson’s recently launched range of novella-length publications (branded as ‘Bookshots’) perhaps exemplifies this alternative approach, with each instalment serving as a condensed novel, stripped of all extraneous details: ‘All thriller, no filler’.

Perhaps it might be best to take the easiest option and define the novella as anything be between 10,000 and 60,000 words – but that still leaves plenty of room for confusion. Stories like Junot Diaz’s ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ (as originally published in the New Yorker) – around 15,000 words – falls into this definition of the novella, as do short novels like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (just  48,000 words long). Nonetheless, ‘Oscar Wao’ feels like a story, whether it is long or short, just as The Great Gatsby feels like a novel, and it is interesting consider the extent to which the boundaries of the novella are policed by our feelings, instincts and affinities, rather than iron-clad definitions.

However we describe it, the novella has been more visible in Australian literature in recent years. This is in no small part due to the laudable efforts of the Griffith Review and Seizure to publish more novella-length works (an earlier version of Gotham first published in the Griffith Review as ‘Cargoes’). Seizure’s ‘Viva La Novella’ prize is intended to ‘celebrate and promote short novels – because we love the form and believe some of the greatest works in the English language are actually novellas’. Seizure’s rationale appears to be that this type of short form fiction (novellas and short novels, the terms used interchangeably) needs to be promoted, suggesting that it is not getting its due in terms of publication and readership. The Griffith Review’s ‘Novella Project’, by contrast, seems to anticipate an imminent golden age:

Novellas: longer than a short story, shorter than a novel, have come into their own, with the digital publishing revolution providing new opportunities for writers to experiment with longer stories that are intense, detailed, often grounded in the times, and perfectly designed for busy people to read in one sitting.

This claim, which links the re-emergence of the novella to the frenetic pace of modern life and to innovations in digital publishing, has been echoed by Earls in an interview with the The Guardian. The argument is that, firstly, as people live busier and increasingly fragmented lives they have less time for long form fiction; novella-length works are better suited to their attention and their needs. Secondly, digital technology means that publishing novellas is more commercially viable. Where in the pre-digital era novellas cost as much as a full-length novel to print and distribute, they can now be priced more competitively when published as ebooks.

James Patterson has made similar arguments in the interviews discussing his ‘Bookshots’ range, and they make a lot of intuitive sense, particularly with regard to the issue of pricing. One of the possible reasons why the novella never had much of visible presence in Australia or New Zealand (though, as Patric points out, novella-like works were certainly being published in other formats) is that books have always been relatively expensive products here, and if a novella could not be sold for much less than a ‘full-length’ book then the perceived lack of value for money would put buyers off.

This idea that the rise of digital publishing may help to revive or reinvigorate an older literary form connects in interesting ways with the depictions and treatment of technology across the different volumes of the Wisdom Tree itself. Digital devices, cameras and screens are almost constantly present in the novellas, and the potential and possibilities that they embody are carefully considered. In Gotham, when Jeff produces his camera to record some clips, its presence immediately prompts Na$ti Boi to perform his public identity as hip hop star in a staged manner. The only geniuine moment in the recording, when he drops the purse that he had bought for his late mother and almost has a breakdown, fearing that it is damaged, is carefully edited out once it is complete. By contrast, the same camera is used by Smokey at end of the story to capture Jeff’s daughter’s ecstatic journey down a monumental slide in Central Park, creating a perfect record of the experience while permitting Jeff to simply focus on enjoying the moment.

Similarly, in Venice, the media that four-year-old Harrison accesses through his tablet creates a barrier between him and his environment, but also provides a breakthrough moment in his relationship with the narrator. When Ryan notices a refrain from ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by The Ramones in one of Harrison’s games and is able to delight his nephew by finding a YouTube video of one of their performances. In Juneau, digital technology helps to bridge the gap between Tim’s father and his great-uncle, allowing him to immediately purchase Knut’s out-of-print novel as an ebook. Charlie’s constant search for free WiFi in NoHo is anything but trivial, because it provides a lifeline to school, friends and his father in a context where he is feeling isolated and overlooked.  However, it is only when he is tasked with venturing beyond the safety of the screen – via a correspondence school assignment to write a report out how an artwork is physically situated within a gallery – that he is able to have his challenging but ultimately rewarding encounter with Wanda and develop a sensitive interpretation of Natalie’s installation art, Family #5, observing how it speaks to what is currently absent in his own life.

‘It’s, like, look at all the shapes. All the curves. They all turn in… She could have put three creatures in a row, ignoring each other, but these ones aren’t. They’re relating to each other in a way that says family. We can’t help but see it that way. It’s an instinct. So, it makes you connect with them more… It’s a good family. How a family should be, looking out for each other. But it was junk once, old fence posts and skulls, before the artist worked out what it could be…’ … That baby, that child-creature was everything to its parents. It was getting all the turns… How would it have worked if there had been two young ones? How would it have worked then? Does the artist ever do that, in families one to four, or six and beyond? I’ll have to google her, Natalie Landry.

Throughout the Wisdom Tree, the capacity of digital technology to create a sense of dislocation – to erase the past by allowing its users to focus on a customisable, heavily mediated present – is tempered by its potential to create genuine connections with both people, moments and their environments, and also with older media, ideas and histories.

It is only in Vancouver that this preoccupation with devices and screens is absent: the action takes place in 2001. And it is only in this novella that literary fiction and its various forms of storytelling – the novel, the short story, the novella – is discussed in any detail, that is presented as being in any way important or essential to the lives of its characters, and it therefore seems telling that this novella alone is confined to the past, while all the other volumes are set in the present. While technology in the Wisdom Tree can provide the occasional unexpected link to older stories and forgotten moments, the types of literary lives lived by Knut and Paul in Vancouver, already precarious, do not seem to extend into the contemporary world. We know from a brief mention in Gotham that Paul’s three novels (‘… all of them the Great Gatsby in one way or another.’) were not successful, and Knut is long out of print by the time that Tim’s father discovers his novel on Amazon.

This movement in the Wisdom Tree, for me at least, complicates some of commentary that surrounds its publication and the novella more generally. There is something wistful in the idea that new media technology will result in the revival of a literary art form that arguably reached the peak of its popularity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, that shorter, digitally published books will be all that it takes to arrest the decline in readership and sales of literary fiction. Perhaps size isn’t the issue. People may have less time and energy for reading, but most of the literary novels that have captured popular attention over the last decade or so (from Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, to Jonathan Franzen’s various weighty ‘how-we-live-now’ tomes, to Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life more recently) have still tended to be longer rather than shorter works. It is also difficult to claim that there is a diminished appetite for long-form storytelling in the age of television binge-watching, of hundred-hour video game plotlines, of epic-length web comics and fan-fiction sagas. Commercially published prose fiction had a long run as the only convenient means of satisfying the desire for extended and engaging narratives, but focus and attention is now shifting to other forms. Digital publishing and distribution may make the novella more viable and accessible than it has been in the past, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will make the leap out of its relatively niche readership. The ebook itself is as awkwardly placed as the novella in some respects, in that it operates as an intermediary technology, attempting to take advantage of the digital revolution without fully embracing its freedoms, retaining the control and definitive authorship of print while lacking its tangibility. We may well be moving towards a post-book future – or less melodramatically, a world in which the form of the book, long or short, print or digital, loses some of the cultural centrality that it has enjoyed for centuries as a means of delivering a narrative or organising information and arguments. It is certainly true that new technologies create new channels of distribution and new communities of readers but I’m not convinced that this is a current that will bear us back to the past.

In any case, while I am sceptical about its imminent ascendency, I am not sceptical about the novella itself, despite the difficulty of definition. Reading the various entries of the Wisdom Tree made me reflect on what works of this length can provide, particularly with regard to the depth of the consideration that they bring to interactions that may seem tangential to the lives of their characters, but which nonetheless build their own sense of value, as well as the deliberately placid pacing and tone, the avoidance of overt, dramatic conflict, the lack of conventional closure or resolution. As noted earlier, Ian McEwan has argued that a novella can be ‘perfect’:

… the demands of economy push writers to polish their sentences to precision and clarity, to bring off their effects with unusual intensity, to remain focussed on the point of their creation and drive it forward with functional single-mindedness, and to end it with a mind to its unity.

Perfection, however, can also be a little antiseptic, and in the grand tradition of nobody really being able to provide a satisfactory definition of what a novella is and what it does well, the volumes of the Wisdom Tree contrast wonderfully with McEwan’s attempt to encapsulate its virtues. In their best moments, they offer complexity and ambiguity rather than single-minded focus and precision. A kind of unity is present in each entry and the sequence as a whole, but grasping it requires the reader to navigate conflicting and occasionally contradictory worldviews and to make the occasional intuitive leap. The novellas of the Wisdom Tree are not perfect, but they feel alive.

Works Cited
Alexandra Alter, ‘James Patterson Has a Big Plan for Small Books’, The New York Times, 2016.
Matt Easton, ‘Novella is no longer a dirty word and Brisbane author Nick Earls is out to prove it’, ABC, 2016.
Richard Ford, ‘Why not a Novella?’ in The Granta Book of the American Long Story. London: Granta, 1998.
Griffith Review, ‘The Novella Project’.
Stephan King, ‘Afterword’ in Different Seasons. New York: Viking Press, 1982.
Ian McEwan, ‘Some Notes on the Novella’, The New Yorker, 2012.
A.S. Patric, ‘Kill Your Novellas’, Kill Your Darlings, 2016,
Peter Pierce, ‘Wisdom Tree review: Nick Earls’ brilliant use of the novella to look at families’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2016.
Seizure Online, ‘A Short History of Viva La Novella’.
Monica Tan, ‘Nick Earls on the unlikely rise of the novella, star of the ebook revolution‘, The Guardian, 2016.