Friday, February 11, 2011

Mini Review: The Night Bookmobile

Author: Audrey Niffenberger
Publisher/Format: Abrams ComicArts (2010), 40 pages
Subject: reading and the role of libraries 
Setting: Chicago
Characters: Alexandra, Mr. Openshaw
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: I read this via a podcast from The Guardian 

The graphic novel is a format I'm becoming more comfortable with.  And having this available as a nightly serialized podcast from the UK Guardian made reading this one quite enjoyable.

The story is simple but deceptively deep.  And I'm not at all sure I agree with the ultimate message.  Essentially one evening, Alexandra, a young woman who enjoys reading, stumbles upon a rundown Winnebago masquerading as a bookmobile, driven by Mr. Openshaw; Inside, she finds copies of every book she's ever read, but there are no new (or new to her) books on the shelves.  She is fascinated by the collection, and asks the elderly gentleman if she can work there. He declines her offer, and when dawn comes, he rides off into the sunrise.

Alexandra spends long years roaming the streets looking for the bookmobile, and in the meantime decides to attend library school. She graduates, get a job in a library, and says that she likes working with people, but still she keeps looking for the bookmobile and Mr. Openshaw.

When at last she is faced with deciding whether to be Director of the County Library branch, or librarian of the Night Bookmobile, she finds her choice will be costly either way.  Here Niffenberger's view of books, and the importance of libraries, librarians and reading is one that disturbs me.  I don't want to spoil this thought-provoking missive.  It is a quick read, and very well written.  It should be read by everyone who thinks reading is important.

I'd love to hear from other readers about their reactions.

1 comment:

  1. even though I read TWO books today (yes, two real books, hundreds and hundreds of pages and still got my bills done!) I may just have to check this out.


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