“Tell me…about a book you love.” ( Page 9)

This statement by the subject of this novel, Ajax Penumbra, to the narrator, Clay Jannon, is often a more difficult question to answer than it seems. In fact, each time I review a book here, I am trying to tell you, the reader, about a book I did really enjoy, and tell you concisely.

The flyleaf of the edition of Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore that I read calls this book “a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century “, but it is also a history of writing itself, from the invention of the printing press on.

When I say “history “, however, let me stress that I am speaking metaphorically. The printing press, and all subsequent technological developments of written communication, opened up learning, as both reading and writing became more accessible to more people.

In the 24-Hour Bookstore, everyone is seeking a secret, “a secret of life” even. Robin Sloan recounts this quest in a way we can all appreciate. Haven’t we all sought answers to difficult questions in books?

(Note: I read the 2012 Harper Collins edition of this book.)




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