Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Librarian - by Larry Beinhart

Beware the librarian who knows too much! In this political thriller university librarian, David Goldberg, finds himself targeted by Homeland Security for information he allegedly learned by helping an eccentric billionaire archive his papers. He is framed for bestiality (of all things) and goes into hiding in order to save his own life.

This book reads like a handbook for buying an election. Big spenders, behind the scene's deals, and top secret documents combined with Beinhart's thinly veiled characters, and real-life events, made me feel almost as paranoid as the poor librarians who were being stalked (and murdered) in this work.

This book boasts at least four different kinds of libraries: the university library where Goldberg works; the Library of Congress; a community college library; and the private library of billionaire Bill Stowe described as
...wonderful, the literary portion of the dream that was the house. While we [the university library] were closing earlier and earlier and cutting Sundays and holidays and our walls were blank and barren and the steel shelves were unadorned and it all flickered under that shuttering light that flourescents put out, this had mahogany shelves and tungsten lighting and fine comfortable furniture. 
So clear here that rich people deserve good libraries, and the rest of us do not. This point is also made evident earlier in the story when Goldberg must fire one of his librarians. He tells her
The chancellor of the university has a privately funded study that he received from the Heritage Institute, on libraries...and it says that there are far too many physical volumes. That all this can be replaced, except for some rare volumes of historic value, perhaps, by a great cyber library, one library for all accessed from our home and office PCs. That would cut down on the need for almost all librarians, except for cyber ones and it would make all this space available...for classrooms or dorm rooms, which actually earn money.
Those who make these comments really make clear that they either don't understand, or don't care, that libraries are places where those who don't have homes, or offices, can get access to information.

In addition to Goldberg, there are several other librarians in this work. Bookish Elaina Whisthoven (the one who is fired) is described in a rather stereotypical way
Elaina Whisthoven loved books and presumed they would love her back and she wanted to serve humanity, so she became a librarian. She wore large glasses and had large curls that were always clean and always brushed and never styled. She lived like a nun  on her meager starting salary in a room she rented from a retired professor and his elderly wife...
Whereas, head librarian, Inga Lokisborg
with an accent as thick as hand-cut bread [is] a crone, judgmental, and by librarian standards, fierce. The lines on her face are like the fissures in layered shale, her eyes, overall, are the color of slate, but there are chips in them the color of bluestone...
She also has a surprising sexual secret.

Finally we learn briefly about hapless librarian Larry Berk "a wonderful man whom God has mistaken for Job."

There is a lot of commentary in this work about different kinds of information, and knowledge, and how it is used (or not) in order to create reality. This page-turning dark comedy will make anyone who reads it think twice about what they believe they know.

No comments:

Post a Comment