How Big Isn’t It? Playing Along With Joe Owens’ “The Instructions” Game

On his blog (Category Thirteen) earlier in October, writer Joe Owens was marveling at the size of Adam Levin’s tome-sized novel, “The Instructions,” and posted some pictures of him visually comparing the book to other “longish” books. However, he then went a little further and compared the book his kitchen knives, his laptop, one of his dogs, some electronic components, his car, and so on. Regardless, he was emphasizing the incredible size of the book (or, playing around once he had established such, you can judge for yourself). Take a look at the entry on his blog for what I’m talking about and you can see for yourself.

However, at 1030 pages, “The Instructions” is large, but not the longest book I’ve ever read. Vikram Seth’s novel “A Suitable Boy” weighs in at 1488 pages. Hugo’s “Les Miserables” comes in at 1280 pages. We won’t even bring Proust into this, though we know who is the heavyweight there. Further, contrary to Joe’s visual comparison, “Infinite Jest” is listed at 1104 pages. All more pages than “The Instructions.” Frankly, my copy (which looks identical to Joe’s copy) has nice thick paper, good font size and spacing, and a nice thick binding. Why is it so big? Quality printing. Editions of any book can vary wildly on pages depending on paper and binding quality, font size and spacing, and so on. “The Instructions” is long, but nowhere near as long as the size suggests. Do not be afraid.
Joe convinced me to read “The Instructions.” However, to put in my own two cents on this debate, I thought I would take some pictures to illustrate that “The Instructions” is not so immense as everyone suggests.

I mean, it isn’t bigger than a breadbox.  It isn’t bigger than my cat or my cat’s litter box.

It’s smaller than my girlfriend’s Hawaiian style Electra Cruiser as well as her purse and the giant lucky cat I bought her as an early birthday present.

Going further, it is smaller than an elevator, my laundry hamper,
my 2003 Corolla, a bathtub, a car baby seat, a toaster oven, a thirty pack of beer, a king size bed, a tornado slide, and a 30 quart turkey fryer.

It is even smaller than Joe’s Crab Shack and Walmart (though most things are).

So, I think it is safe to say, “The Instructions” might be a decent size book, but it isn’t the biggest things in the world. Relatively it is fairly small. There are all sorts of things that are bigger. In conclusion, don’t be afraid of the size of this book. People are making it out to be much more work than it is. Read it and have fun. Back to you, Joe.

About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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