Will sustained isolation lead to a baby boom or a novel boom?
Long before COVID-19, the most recent novel coronavirus to come along, I’d toyed with the idea of writing a novel called A Novel.
As is usually the case in the life of a novelist, however, I ran into a few problems right off the bat.
Did I want to follow convention and add the reading line ‘A Novel’ after the title, thus calling my new book A Novel: A Novel? Was that a redundant conceit, or would it help contextualize the 70,000 words to follow? If omitted, would my readers be doomed to wander the forest of my sentences without knowing whether A Novel was truth or fiction?
Why do authors add ‘A Novel’ after the title—a practice going back to the 17th century—in the first place?
I didn’t follow the trend for my first book—could there be any doubt that an enterprise titled Two Pumps for the Body Man was anything other than a work of fiction? Instead, I used the reading line to warn prospective readers they were about to enter ‘A Diplomatic Noir.’
Whatever that is.
But my second book, Patchworks, needed to be called Patchworks: A Novel, because I didn’t want my readers to expect real world guidance on sewing large blankets.
I suspect that in the months to come, given the prolonged self-isolation we’re about to endure, the world will see many new books that are, in fact, novel coronavirus novels. What better way to pass the weeks ahead than to declare this National Novel Virus Month, or NaNo-ViMo, and write A Novel Coronavirus Novel: A Novel.
The alternative? Start the next baby-boom.