Critics love it. English teachers are raving about it. Publishers are calling it the next big thing in literature. Readers of all stripes and intellects are engrossed by Zed Pernell’s “The Novel,” a novel written as a SparkNotes-type study guide.
Set in a symbolic setting, “The Novel” shows how the thoroughly analyzed major characters interact with minor ones to further the plot. Gripping plot summary is interspersed with lucidly explained important quotations, sometimes sans the quotations, and is followed by the spelled-out major themes and motifs.
Pernell said inspirations for the book came from the perennial agony, both in school and out, of trying to figure out what a particular novel is all about. “It makes no sense to read hundreds of pages of blah-blah-blah just to find out the plot, themes, symbols—you know, the only parts that matter,” Pernell said. “That’s all fiction boils down to, really, that’s what people read it for. So I decided to cut out the middle man and get straight to the point. That saves time for both me and the reader.”
It seems to have worked. Many Amazon.com reviewers said that aside from the shining wisdom and superb characterization in “The Novel,” it was its ultra-minimalist style that won them over.
“I can’t stand reading a novel that’s so complicated that I actually have to figure things out on my own and piece the important stuff together from the scraps buried here and there and god knows where. Like, c’mon, give me a break, I’m tired after a full-time job and I still want to feel smart!” wrote one reviewer.
Wrote another, “‘The Novel’ finally relieved my anxiety about not picking up all the intellectual things in a novel. I worry about that. I feel dumb when other people find many more symbols and messages in a novel than I do. Or when they interpret it in a more profound way and dig five layers deeper. Even if I liked the novel, I begin hating it. It makes me feel like a failure, ashamed of myself. But with this literary masterpiece, I can finally feel as smart and correct as any highbrow lit critic out there.”
Pernell said he is currently working with Columbia Pictures on a movie trailer adaptation of “The Novel.”