The Librarianist: A Novel
Patrick DeWitt’s most recent novel, The Librarianist, introduces readers to Bob Comet, a quiet and reclusive recent retiree who spent his working life as a librarian. One day, while out walking, he sees a woman who is quite clearly lost and takes it upon himself to return her to the senior center where she lives. That small moment turns into a desire to volunteer at the center and to read to the residents. Ultimately, though, that endeavor does not go well. Bob’s life as a devotee of books hasn’t made him very good with people, and that lack of social awareness causes a breakdown between him and the residents.
The novel then turns to Bob’s past; his short marriage to Connie, who left him for his best friend, and an incident at the age of eleven—just at the end of World War II—when Bob ran away from home for four days. The middle section of the book seems intent on drawing out all the ways Bob became so reclusive and removed; it does this well, and with some humor, but I often found myself asking why I should care about Bob’s plight. It is difficult to invest in a novel as a whole when the protagonist isn’t terribly interesting.
The final third of the book sees Bob’s return to the senior center. I won’t spoil it for you, but there is some closure that occurs and some explanation for Bob’s behavior that pans out in the latter pages. The title The Librarianist led me to believe there would be more focus on books, as did the initial introduction of Bob’s character. Because I was hoping for those things, the novel didn’t hold together for me as much as it could have.
|Page Count||352 pages|
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