Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Night Bookmobile

The Night Bookmobile, the new graphic novel written and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger, is extraordinary. It is one of those stories that will haunt me for a very long time. It is also very hard for me to talk about precisely why here, without giving away a part of the story which I would have been very upset if I knew before reading it. So the first thing I want to say, is please, quick, some of you lot go read this amazing book so we can talk about it, okay? (There's a "contact me" link in my profile. I'm not kidding. I really need to talk about this book.)

Part of the reason this book is so amazing, the reason I bought it in the first place, is that this book is about libraries. If I had to choose an inherently magical place, someplace in the real world where I halfway expect magic to happen every time I go there, it would be a library. Libraries have always struck me as pocket universes - they are full of so many things that they are bigger on the inside. You can be in them and elsewhere simultaneously. 

The Night Bookmobile of the title is a personal library, containing all the things ever read by an individual, in this case, a young woman named Alexandra. It is open only from dusk to dawn, and is not the sort of place a reader can find with any regularity, no matter how much she wishes to. It is the story of what it means to be a reader, and to live inside a world of books, and to long, unbearably deeply, for the worlds they contain.

It is possible that reading this book will break your heart. I prefer books that do that. But it may not break you in the way you expect. And that is why I am haunted by this story, and why I want you to read it, and to share my ghosts.


  1. Gahhhh! My library has it not (et tu, Durham)? But you've sold me. As soon as my play is over...

  2. I'm so proud I have a friend who can say things like "As soon as my play is over..." You rock.

    Also, I think you will be glad you read this book.

  3. When they read the original short story on Selected Shorts a few years ago, it was a "sit in the parking lot with the engine idling until the story is over, appointment be damned" experience for me. Looking forward to checking out the GN adaptation.

  4. E. J., You of all people will know the exact point where I said, "Oh my God, Borges!"

    Also, according to her end note, this is only the first installment of a longer work called "The Library." I'm so excited.

  5. Kat, check out the trailer for the play--(this is just one I'm in, not the one I wrote). But you'd LOVE it. Super-dark and sexy.

  6. Whoa. That looks awesome. I wish I could see it.