The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt: A review
Bob goes on a daily walk each morning and on one of those mornings, he encounters a confused elderly woman. He learns that she lives in a nearby senior center and he helps to return her to her home. Bob's life has existed at a bit of loose ends since his retirement and now he sees an opportunity to perhaps fill the void by volunteering at the center.
At the center, he finds a community of his age peers and through his interaction with them, details of his life begin to be revealed. We learn that he had been an unhappy child and that during the final days of World War II, he had run away from home. As a runaway, he had met various characters whom we learn about. Some of them were interesting; others could have been better left out altogether in my opinion.
The story is told in sections and my favorite section involved Bob's wife and best friend. Their backstory was important to understanding Bob and why he was the way he was. He had been hurt by them and that had provided much of the motivation for his actions in later life.
Bob had wanted to share his love of books with the residents at the senior center. He had hoped to read to them, but he soon learned that the residents really had no interest in being read to by him and so he had to find other ways to perform his volunteer work. The volunteering did give his life a new purpose and he learned that he enjoyed getting to know the residents.
I think I would have liked the book more if it had stuck with the timeline and interactions at the senior center rather than spending so much time in Bob's childhood. Understandably, the writer was interested in exploring the background and providing context for Bob's character but a little of that went a long way for me and I would have preferred to spend more time in his present. All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a bit but felt that I would have enjoyed it more had the focus been tighter on Bob's present rather than his past.