"A reader is a traveler through a ready-made landscape."
Mar 30, 2009
When Bluma Lennon is struck by a car and killed while reading a second-hand copy of Emily Dickinson's poems, everyone agrees that "books change people's destinies". Bluma isn't the only victim of such oblivion over the years, others lost to similar mischance. And while Bluma's eulogy lauds her as a lover of literature, no one would imagine that her passion would lead to her demise. The simple eulogy elicits such heated discussion that the students on campus enter a competition on the subject: "Relations between reality and language". Cambridge is buzzing with opinions.
When a package arrives, addressed to Bluma, the narrator, who has been teaching her classes, notices that the stamps are from Uruguay. Secretively, he opens the package; t is a used, broken-spined copy of Joseph Conrad's The Shadow-Line, the author the subject of the deceased professor's thesis. The volume is filthy, the cover raining particles of cement. There is no letter enclosed to explain the untimely arrival of the book. Disturbed by events he cannot explain, the narrator takes pains to track the man who sent it, Carlos Brauer of Rocha, Uruguay, formerly of Argentina. As he obsesses on Bruna's book, the narrator reveals his own love of the printed world, the many volumes given away to students during the year quickly replaced by new acquisitions, his library "advancing silently". Following Brauer's last known movements, the narrator travels to Buenos Aires, where he discovers that Carlos is a bibliophile, a man who loves books for the pure joy of ownership. However, Carlos Brauer has gone missing, leaving Argentina for the harsh coast of Uruguay. The narrator is faced with yet another mystery to solve.
Littered with quirky characters, the search becomes more convoluted, the rarified world of book collectors "concealing a dense web of secrets beneath a mild air of reticence". This dense fable is complemented by fanciful illustrations, an extraordinary world where books are valued and man's destiny intersects a love of language, the twisted road to a remote crossing of "The Shadow-Line". Luan Gaines.
Pros: Sometimes lyrical language, decent tone, illustrations Cons: The story as a whole The Bottom Line: For a serious book lover, read it in the library; for all others, flip through and look at the illustrations. I am a near fanatic about collecting and reading books. Because of this, I fully expected to love this thin volume. Instead, The House of Paper was a disappointment of “not-quite:” not quite magical, … more
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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