Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 One Week in the Library


Imagine a man living in a library. He has always been there; there are various stories of his arrival there and he cannot leave. What would his days be like? He would be surrounded by books all day, every day. Would his relationship with the books be different than ours? 

The creators of One Week in the Library have made a graphic novel that also mixes in infographics, pages of text, poetry, lots of references to other works, and some metafictional scenes, too. Each day of the week shows a trip to a different section of the library and a different experience. For instance, on Friday he meets a wooden boy very much like Pinocchio and Saturday he eats porridge in the company of Ursas Major, Medium, and Minor. 

I liked the graphics of Sunday's that show that the "library is an indeterminate number of protean quadrate galleries." All sorts of mathematical terms are thrown around - things like contranimbuses and perpendiculums. And the explanation that the books are not written in ink, but in "the very blood of the living stories held within that makes the pages readable - we call this hemo-fictive illumination." 

My least favorite day was Monday, which shows a frightful variation on Charlotte's Web in which the spider writes the word "Terrible" and the farmer ends up eating bacon. That one gave me the heebie-jeebies.

The many references to stories are like an Easter egg hunt for avid readers. There are mentions of the wardrobe to Narnia, Alice and the Looking Glass, even Morpheus offering little red pills. There are clever allusions in the names of the characters. Larry is the one who becomes Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne), Hadder runs a board room that is reminiscent of the Mad Hatter's tea party, and Mr. Pilar smokes constantly like the caterpillar with the hookah in Wonderland. And the illustrations feed into this too. Even the Millenium Falcon and the Enterprise show up at some point.

Several statements in the book would make great quotes on bookmarks or posters. "There's always a better story. It takes just a tiny red pill...A stumble through the looking glass...A journey through the back of a wardrobe...The borders are porous, you see. Break on through to the other side."

Books like this help readers to break on through. Have fun on the trip!

I received an e-galley from the publisher for review purposes.

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