A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Delightful! That’s the perfect word to describe Ian Sansom’s first book in his Mobile Library series. It’s rambling, conversational style is full of asides, amusing details and sound effects. Humor abounds on every page, sometimes a chuckle, other times, literally laughing out loud.
Londoner Israel Armstrong applies for a job as a librarian in a small town in Northern Ireland, thinking it might be better than selling DaVinci Codes at a discount bookstore. When he arrives, he discovers that the library has been closed due to budget cuts and the mobile library is to replace it, with himself as driver. This is not what he envisioned at all and watching him try to adjust is hilarious. His problems are compounded when it’s discovered that all of the books have disappeared and he is expected to get them back. The mystery isn’t well developed, which is irrelevant, because everything else is such fun.
Israel is definitely a fish out of water, unable to decipher the slang, the geography and the customs of the natives. There’s a host of well defined secondary characters, all eccentrics: his furious landlord, Georgie; his deceptive boss, Linda; affable Brownie; brazen Veronica and menacingly mysterious Ted. The encounters with them never go the way we, or Israel, thinks they will. This sense of unbalanced whimsy is what makes the book so uniquely enjoyable. If you’re looking for something light and witty, check this out on your library card, you won’t be disappointed.
Harper 2006 336 pp. ISBN 978-0-06-082250-7