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Katina's Pick: The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt

Tells 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 novel in itself.

Bob Comet’s is a life and was a career punctuated by routine.

Bob’s lifelong love of books resulted in a more than four decades-long stay at the library, with the early mornings there – when it was devoid of people – his favorite part of the day. With a few bright spots along the way, Bob finds himself an aging, solitary man.

During a routine walk, a chance encounter at a convenience store causes Bob to crash headlong into his past, though he doesn’t yet realize it. Bob walks “Chip,” a seemingly catatonic woman, back to the assisted living center displayed on her name tag. It’s the first step in allowing others back in, as he becomes closer to the center’s residents, and, ultimately, in reconciling his past.

In The Librarianist, Patrick deWitt offers a tale of an ordinary man trying to reconnect. As a comet is brightest when it nears the sun, Bob Comet’s light shines the greatest when his life includes and revolves around others. As Bob’s story develops, the author presents Bob’s earlier life through an extended flashback, a regression of sorts. We see Bob as a young man during which a woman, Connie, and a man, Ethan, illuminate his world for a brief time, but then abruptly depart from it. We then see Bob as an unhappy child runaway whose unsanctioned journey connects him with a literal cast of characters, including a couple of eccentric actresses and their performing dogs.

These periods in Bob’s life form the highlights.

But as comets can return again to orbit the sun, so Bob can return from his isolation to allow others to share in his orbit. Could this phase of his life be the brightest yet?

Patrick deWitt presents a literary portrait of a man on the outside.

The Librarianist is a beautifully written story that will resonate with readers who will find themselves captivated by Bob’s story. It’s a story not unlike those in the books Bob cherished throughout his life, a story of love and friendship, of loss, and of starting over.

In this way, the story of a man lacking connection connects us all.

- Katina, Area Librarian


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