The Libriarianist – Patrick deWitt

The Libriarianist

The Libriarianist


Bob Comet, a retired librarian, finds the strayed resident of a retirement home, which starts a longer involvement with the home and its residents.


This is quiet, understated book, much like its protagonist. It’s calm and pleasant, though, eventually and occasionally, a sly sense of humor shows through. In a way, it’s more extended character than novel; it just ends, fairly abruptly. The prose is on the plain side, though it does allow room for the aforementioned humor; some moments are quite funny.

I picked this up due in large part to the description – a retired librarian in Portland, Oregon. Libraries in my home town, plus he goes to the coast; how could I go wrong? I didn’t go wrong, but the Portland element is regrettably thin – it feels more like someone with a map than someone who’s really spent time in the town. Really, the story could have taken place anywhere and not been noticeably different. All the locations are on the generic side.

It’s a nice story; undemanding and easily read. The characters are engaging, if predictable. The plot, while not linear, is straightforward. deWitt mixes in a few sections of farce that gave it a bit of a Jonathan Carroll feel, but the central one (a boyhood trip to the coast) feels more stuck-on than integral. It’s a nice read with interesting characters, but it has little to do (even by implication) with the rest of the book; it does very much feel like a little character background that made it into the book as filler.

All that said, it was a pleasant read, but I was disappointed by the abrupt ending. Some aspects of the protagonist’s journey have been resolved, but the closing lines felt like metaphor in search of meaning, not tied to the rest of the text in more than an oblique way.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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