When I open a book with a boomer-aged main character, written by an author I have previously read and enjoyed, then chances are very good that I’m going to enjoy it. The Librarianist by Canadian-born author Patrick deWitt is such a book. I loved his earlier book French Exit. I read it a few years ago and can vouch for that book being infinitely better than the movie that followed, which is usually the case.
Bob Comet is an ordinary man. In fact, he is rather boring. As an only child growing up in the 1950s, Bob’s life was routine and predictable. His widowed mother provided a safe environment but around the age of twelve, Bob felt he needed an adventure so he ran away from home. With a little ingenuity and a lot of luck, Bob successfully engineered a brief escape from his Portland, Oregon home by stowing away on a train and hooking up with two eccentric old vaudeville ladies who took him under their wing. The entire experience lasted only a few days before the law and his mother retrieved him and he returned to his former boring life.
Years later, when Bob was a fully qualified librarian still living in his childhood home, he met Connie. She was somewhat unorthodox, fun to be with, and pretty. They were young, in love, and decided to get married, which should have been the happily-ever-after ending to the story. But, that wouldn’t be particularly remarkable, so deWitt wrote a couple of twists into his story.
Bob made an unusual friend and this was the first time that loner Bob had ever had a friend. Ethan was an unlikely choice. Good-looking and impulsive, Ethan was a Jack-The-Lad with obvious but likeable bad-boy qualities. Unfortunately, Bob’s new wife Connie also enjoyed Ethan’s company and soon fell prey to his charms. Before he knew what hit him, Bob Comet was divorced and Connie married Ethan.
Fast forward several decades, and Bob is a retired seventy-one-year-old devoted to his daily routines and rituals. One day while taking his usual walk, he encounters a bewildered old lady in a convenience store. Volunteering to return her to her seniors’ residence, he strikes up a friendship with the young woman in charge of the residence and decides to volunteer regularly at the home. Again, Bob’s life changes.
The Librarianist is a quirky little book with elements of humour, and I absolutely loved the cover art. I enjoyed deWitt’s French Exit slightly more but that’s probably because most of that book is set in Paris. If you’re a book and library lover like I am, give either one a shot. They’re both worthwhile.
If you are unable to obtain either book at your local bookstore or library, click on the image of the book below to order directly from Amazon.
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