Times' New Fiction Series (& a Novella Collection)

07johnsonlargeIt’s called “Summer Thrillers” and I think it just launched today. Maybe last week. For about a year now I’ve paid for (at a reduced introductory rate that lasted 13 weeks, at which time I had to call the Times up to pretend to cancel my subscription so that they’d offer me the reduce rate again) the Sunday Times, but now I don’t anymore because they no longer offer the introductory rate. Today’s first page has a box in the lower-left corner:

To Our Readers
Starting today, the news-
stand price of the Sunday
Times is $6.00

Strange behavior for a dying medium. But for some reason the Times came today (paper delivery person, if you read this, and have just been mistakenly dropping a paper off, please continue said mistake), and I’m still in the midst of enjoying it.

The Magazine used to publish serialized pulp fiction, and I was a fan. This practice stopped earlier this year, but now they’ve got fiction in the Week in Review section, of all places. Back with the op-eds. Online readers can find the first (?) installment here.

The story, “Guy Walks into a Bar”, by Lee Child, about a retired military cop who tries to be hero in a Bleecker Street bar, is maybe light on thrills and even lighter on language. (“More Russians, probably. Operators, no question. Connected, no doubt. Probably not the best the world has ever seen, but probably not the worst, either.”) I guess this is suited to the form: fiction on an op-ed page. I guess one way to keep people moving briskly through your prose is to stick faithfully to a clear causality of subjects verbing objects.

But the news is good. Fiction in newspapers! Here’s hoping future installments are a bit less by-the-numbers.

UPDATE: Oh and if fiction in newspapers is a delight, did you know novellas are getting published in book form now, too? Josh Weil is a fellow alum, a nice guy who stayed right down the hall from me last summer, and told us about his book of novellas that Grove Press took. I thought, Novellas? Surely not. Everyone says those aren’t publishable..

Not only publishable, but readable. Anthony Doerr’s got a kind, glowing review in today’s Times.