The Librarianist: A Novel (Hardcover)
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From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself.
Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he’s known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.
Behind Bob Comet’s straight-man façade is the story of an unhappy child’s runaway adventure during the last days of the Second World War, of true love won and stolen away, of the purpose and pride found in the librarian’s vocation, and of the pleasures of a life lived to the side of the masses. Bob’s experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsize players to welcome onto the stage of his life.
With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert’s condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.
Patrick deWitt is the author of the novels French Exit (a national bestseller), The Sisters Brothers (a New York Times bestseller short-listed for the Booker Prize), and the critically acclaimed Undermajordomo Minor and Ablutions. Born in British Columbia, he now resides in Portland, Oregon.
“[A] wildly imaginative author.” — Washington Post
“A bittersweet tale of a retired librarian . . . DeWitt imbues the people he meets with color and quirks, leaving a trail of sparks . . . This one gradually takes hold until it won’t let go.” — Publishers Weekly
“Bob Comet, a retired librarian . . . brings to mind John Williams’ Stoner and Thoreau’s chestnut about ‘lives of quiet desperation,’ but it is telling that deWitt chooses to capture him at times when his life takes a turn. A quietly effective and moving character study.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Readers come to deWitt (French Exit, 2018) for his brand of slightly off-kilter storytelling blessed with exuberant characterizations, gleeful dialogue, and a proprietary blend of darkness and charm, all strung up in lights here. Gripping, random, and totally alive? Check, check, and check.” — Booklist
“A quiet, melancholy novel, one that is perfect for long summer evenings.” — Town & Country