Ahhh, the art of the essay. Something of a dying art, I think, but in this absolutely gorgeous, wonderful, lyrical paean to libraries, books, reading, writers, and collectors of books, we have a work of true beauty.
Many reviewers have called it magical, and so it is, and spiritual, and absolutely compelling. It is a love letter, and those of us who love books and libraries will all wish we had written it ourselves.
This rambling examination of all that we love about the written word is broken down into thematic chapters: The Library As Myth, , As Order, As Space, As Power, As Shadow, As Shape, As chance, As Workshop, As Mind, As Island, As Survival, As Oblivion, As Imagination, As Identity, and As Home. in each chapter we have some history, well, lots of history, actually, and descriptions of long-gone libraries, history libraries, current libraries. We have musings on his own personal eclectic collection, and thoughts about how to sort one’s collection.
If you like non-fiction, if you like books, if you like libraries, if you like reading about someone’s passion, this is the book for you. Go read it.
I thought I would give you a little Wiki-ness on Alberto Manguel.
Alberto Manguel (born 1948 in Buenos Aires) is an Argentine-born Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor. He is the author of numerous non-fiction books such as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (co-written with Gianni Guadalupi in 1980), A History of Reading (1996), The Library at Night (2007) and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey: A Biography (2008); and novels such as News From a Foreign Country Came (1991). Though almost all of Manguel’s books were written in English, two of his novels (El regreso and Todos los hombres son mentirosos) were written in Spanish, and El regreso has not yet been published in English.
I have to confess that this is one book I wish I also had in print form. Just in case the apocalypse arrives and we have no electricity.