Tuesday, January 22

The Immortal Mr Penumbra


A month ago I had never heard of Robin Sloan's book, Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  But within five minutes of first hearing of it, I knew that I had to read it.  I jumped straight onto the library website and ordered a copy, waiting on tenterhooks for almost a week before it finally arrived.  

I sat and read half of it in one sitting - which I pretty well never do - before easing up a bit and savouring the second half over the course of two quiet nights.  


This whole book, while 288 pages long, has the same pace as all the best adventure movies.  It is so grippingly readable that hours are turned to jelly which can be eaten voraciously in big spoonfuls with a serving of ice-cream - which is author, Robin Sloan's, great sense of humour and loveable empathy.  

I am always thrilled by a hint of centuries-old mystery and the whiff of a code to be cracked.  This is the ultimate book-lover's adventure/mystery read.  Not only because it is a brilliant book, but because it is about BOOKS.  

Everything relates to the life and importance of the written word, with a theme of books vs technology. While praising technology, it also presents a view that any reader would be proud to be represented by. The end... oh... it is the ultimate feel-good, must experience it for yourself, beautiful read.  

While it doesn't feel as glorified or important as, say Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde, I finished reading this book with a sense that every word in it will ring truthfully in my heart forevermore.  It is a book that I am proud to love, especially as it, in turn, is in love with so many things: people, places, dreams, ideas, and especially books.  This is a must read.  And even more easier to take on than any of the other books on our 100 Books to Read Before You Die list, because you can potentially read it in three sittings.  It is easy to read, easy to love, compelling, moving and beautiful.  

I wish I could spoil the ending, but let it suffice to say that this book is immortal.


The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. 
With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

Copied verbatim from www.goodreads.com 

1 comment:

  1. I love your delight, passion & wonder for literature & life. It is quite contagious.


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