The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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July 2, 2013

Paris in July: The Library of Unrequited Love

What a funny {odd funny, not really ha-ha funny} book. After reading about The Library of Unrequited Love on Fleur in her World, I was happy to find it in the college library, and even happier that I could hang on to it long enough to save it for Paris in July.  It doesn't take place in Paris, however. The narrator, who is never named, has made the fatal mistake of following Arthur, a man with sideburns, to a provincial town, and when he leaves her for a 'nuclear bureaucrat,' she finds herself left behind, to work in the Geography section.

Among other indignities, Geography is shelved in the basement, and arriving one morning with her thermos of strong coffee and her pent-up frustrations, our heroine finds that someone has slept in the library overnight.  She tells him (that's all we learn about him, that he is a him} that it would best to wait till the library opens before he goes upstairs, and then she tells him a lot more.  About the Dewey Decimal System {it is a wondrous invention, and an evil tyranny}, about architects {she loathes them, because of the way they design libraries, and will not help one find a book}, about the patrons who see the library as a place to ogle girls, or to come in from the cold, but never to read, about Maupassant, about the new books that come out in the autumn, about resignation, and being slow to change, and most of all, about Martin, a young researcher, and his lovely, lovely neck.

A little hard to capture. The Library of Unrequited Love is only 92 pages long, a book I could read in two bus rides and a sandwich, and though I didn't love it as much as I thought I might, I'm glad I found it. Because if someone was going to read a novel that is essentially a 92-page rant by a middle-aged French librarian, and like it well enough, who would, if not us? :)


JoAnn said...

A "92-page rant by a middle-aged French librarian" sounds like fun to me... sad I know. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Our unnamed librarian was a little too spikey to love, I thought, but I'm glad that she's found a few readers ready to take on board what she had to say.

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