The novella is a special collection of words. It’s not a short story. It’s not a novel. It’s somewhere in between. I like to think if it as the icing on the cake, if all you were eating is the icing. It’s strong, compelling and flavorful. When an author approaches writing a novella, they must be fearless. There isn’t any room for any extra words; each must serve a purpose.
That brings us to Marci Vogel and her novella, DEATH and OTHER HOLIDAYS (MelvilleHousePublishing). Marci is much like her novella. She’s petite, bright and full of profound ideas. I got to meet her at the Miami Book Fair in November, and knew I met someone very special.
In her novella, a young woman named April is coming to terms with the death of her step-father, Wilson. Readers are introduced to her family and friends, including BFF, Libby while she navigates the shark-infested waters of love in Los Angeles.
DEATH and OTHER HOLIDAYS is broken down into four sections – the four seasons of the year and each section is made up of short scenes and stories. They are pithy and all have a point. You can tell Marci is a poet by her extremely compact writing. There are no words to spare. It’s told with humor and intricate details, which make each story that much more unique. One scene that sticks out to me, is an occasion where all of April’s aunts attend and they are described by the various perfumes they are wearing. It’s a lovely technique to identify each woman. She labels the men she dates. One is Crashman, Volvo Man, Motorcycle Man, Critic Man, and then there’s Victor. Oddities are added as if they were spices for a meal.
“We get these beetles every summer, June bugs they’re called, only they don’t show up until July.”
DEATH and OTHER HOLIDAYS is subtle but it’s obvious Marci has affection for each character. I read DEATH and OTHER HOLIDAYS and found it so special, I wish I could read it again for the first time.