Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: a review

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Read: 2013

Note: this is the first time I'll be writing a review about a book that is not my favorite. However, this does not indicate that I have poorly judged a book, for I believe each book tastes different to another bibliophile such as me.

Clay Jannon is a jobless techie, until he strolls onto a 'Help Wanted' sign on a peculiar bookstore 'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore' in San Francisco, California. Mr. Penumbra is an old man who owns an old (older than Penumbra himself) bookstore. Clay, as he detests to live in tents, accepts the night shift. Clay soon figures out that he was to become more than just a clerk of an oddball's bookshop.

I will no longer give away what this book is all about. The first time one shall read this will spend hours and hours picturing Mr. Penumbra's bookstore. More or less it's a book about books (I am referring to the printed word), and sort of a commemorative fiction for books.

In the age of kindles, Sloan has given fair effort to face the issue of e-books against the printed word. And roughly, the ever so sensitive and stubborn bibliophile such as I, will be opened to the favors of the electronic format.

Sloan's writing meshes with simple but concise vocabulary and falls under the hipster subcult. There's nothing much, Sloan's work is not quotable, but the experience of reading this book was refreshing. All these characteristics I have mentioned made the book a page-turner to me.

What frustrated me though, was the cliched ending. I was expecting of something to equal the idea of Sloan, because truthfully, the whole 'oddball-bookshop-slash-oddball-people-coming-over' was something that I wished (particularly, the bibliophile's) existed in real life.

But I'm going to let this slide, Mr. Penumbra's bookstore is just too cool not to imagine, and personally, I think this book has dedicated itself to the existence of books. This work had heightened my love and appreciation for books.

This is how I imagined the bookstore and Mr. Penumbra: *don't judge*

"Of course, the relationship between book and reader is private." -- Mr. Penumbra.

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