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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

The Librarianist

Good Morning Ripe Readers! Sorry to be away for so long. I will try to catch up on my reviews in the coming days. Here is my review for The Librarianist, which was published just last week:

Bob Comet is a 71-year-old retired librarian. One day he comes across a non-verbal woman in a convenience store. When he reads the tag around her neck he guides her back to the Gambell-Reed Senior Center, from which she has run away.

Bob tours the Senior Center and thinks he would like to volunteer there. First he tries reading to the residents but they don’t seem interested:

“He understood that he was going to work his way towards visibility, to earn the right to be seen by these people, which he believed was fair, and correct.”

Bob tries again taking a more philosophical approach in a lecture about literacy:

“‘Why read at all?….There is an element of escape…but also we read as a way to come to grips with the randomness of of our being alive. To read a book by an observant, sympathetic mind is to see the human landscape in all its odd detail, and the reader says to him or herself, Yes that’s how it is, only I didn’t know it to describe it.’

Bob gives up the reading idea and becomes instead a friendly and stable helper at the center.

Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Bob had a difficult childhood. Once he ran away from home and for 4 days had an exciting adventure with two women performers who took him in as part of their act.

In another series of flashbacks we learn that Bob had once been married, but that his wife Connie had run away with his best friend, Ethan, who was more dynamic than he was.

“There had been whole eras of Bob’s working life where he knew a lamentation at the smallness of his existence.”

Bob makes a disturbing discovery about one of the residents at the Senior Center that causes him to stop volunteering for awhile. When he meets the resident’s son, it leads to a sense of outrage and finally a sense of closure for Bob.

“Was it not too late in the game to make a change to one’s own personality? To suddenly begin action in a new way?”

The Librarianist was written by Patrick deWitt, a Canadian author known for his black comedy style in his previous titles French Exit and Sisters Brothers. In The Librarianist, deWitt explores what it is to be an introvert, with empathy and humor. To purchase I suggest visiting your local bookshop! Or you can shop at Amazon using the links below.

Hardcover 354 pages, Audiobook 10 Hours


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