Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, Infinite Jest — these are a handful of literature’s longest and finest works, books that everyone reading this post has read. I know I have. But for those with a more rudimentary understanding of how culture works, here’s a tip: The bigger or longer something is, the better its quality. This is why The Simpsons (32 seasons) is the greatest television show, the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (the length of whole slumber party) are the greatest films, and why J.K. Rowling’s new detective novel, a searingly tedious take on “cancel culture” that clocks in at 1,274 pages, is the first throwing of the gauntlet of this generation.
The Ink Black Heart is the latest installment of Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series, written under her male pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The six mystery novels add up to a total of 4,276 pages, making the lot about 60 pages longer than Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.
Not unlike Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the Cormoran Strike novels have ballooned as they’ve gone on, and this most recent title has come under fire not for its admirable length, but for its possible self-insertion plotline. In the book, private eye Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott investigate the murder of a YouTuber who is found stabbed after she is canceled by social justice warriors amid accusations of transphobia. This would be a crazy plot in and of itself, certainly one of “our time,” whether we like it or not, especially because Rowling has been particularly vocal about not only her own transphobic views, but also her constant fear for her own safety amid the “hate” she gets on Twitter (most of which is people telling her to shut the fuck up, though she cried “doxxing” late last year). Perhaps there’s a part of the book in which Rowling’s apparent self-insert YouTuber is put on Gawker’s list of biggest losers in 2021? We can only hope.
In an interview with Irish comedian Graham Norton, Rowling said that she came up with this plot long before she would regularly get into beefs with people on Twitter about her stupid views. Sure, I believe you, “Robert.” ;)
That Twitter experience sure has come in handy, though. It appears that the book isn’t a whopping 1,200 pages only because it’s full of twists and turns and subtle editorializing, but also because it’s apparently filled with fictional hateful tweets.
Credit where credit is due — the phrase “full of cok” is kinda cracking me up. Props to whichever anonymous troll inspired Rowling’s elegant turn of phrase. Maybe George Eliot’s paltry 880-page pastoral epic Middlemarch could have used some mean tweets, too.
Kudos to Rowling, too, for achieving that which most writers could only dream of: publishing a poorly disguised list of personal complaints as a tome that retails for $21.49. Unfortunately, I will not be able to tell you whether the novel is worth its weight in paper; I have only one precious life, and it’s unlikely I’ll waste any of it reading this.