Rolla Public Library's Online Book Club discussion

August 2020 > August BotM "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rolla (new)

Rolla Public Library (rollapubliclibrary) | 515 comments Mod
I read this several years ago and I'm probably due for a re-read. My strongest memory of it is how excited I was to discover the book glows in the dark! - Katy

message 2: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 140 comments Mod
I could say exactly the same thing! I have my copy, and hope to have a chance to reread it.

message 3: by Ralph (new)

Ralph McEwen | 22 comments I have started the book in audio format. It's definitely a odd story but I am enjoying it.

message 4: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 140 comments Mod

message 5: by Cheryl (last edited Aug 21, 2020 04:17PM) (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 140 comments Mod
Ok I'm done with it. It's intricate, but not intense. I mean, when I found out that I'd forgotten who someone was, or what something signified, I didn't worry too much, but plowed on.

That being said, I decided to look up some of the allusions.

Penumbra itself is a clue to the author's intended meanings, if one knows the definition of the word: "the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object. I knew the astronomy term, "the shadow cast by the earth or moon over an area experiencing a partial eclipse," but am feeling that the less specific definition, the first one, is more relevant in this story.

Metaphorically, in terms of *L*iterature, one could argue that the bookstore owner is partially traditional, but in the shadow of Corvina, opaquely reluctant to consider anything different than the same old traditions.

message 6: by Cheryl (last edited Aug 21, 2020 04:28PM) (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 140 comments Mod
Corvina is a prized food fish in South America, says google. No significance there that I can imagine. It's also a very non-traditional, and imo heavy and ugly, typeface.

"Festina lente" means "make haste slowly : proceed expeditiously but prudently."

"Ad libris" means, apparently, "to (the) books," as opposed to 'ex libris' which means "from (the) books" and is the phrase used on bookplates to mark ownership of volumes. This phrase was written on the "closed" sign when the bookshop was first closed, about 1/3 of the way through.

The typeface Gerritszoon might be what this blogger has decided it is: Another mention is of Garamond. I dunno. I'm not particularly fond of serif in general.

message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 140 comments Mod
"Vonnegut diagrams" are not a separate thing unto themselves, according to a quick google search. For his master's thesis, KV diagrammed the shape of stories. He says it's "pretty." See for yourself; google it.

What he's saying is that there are a limited number of shapes, of schema (8, iiuc). There's also an argument made elsewhere that there are only 7 universal stories. In fact, there's a book: The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories.

There's a limit to our imaginations, iow. The author here, Sloan, has Kat challenge Clay to imagine the future, past the cure for cancer and transporters and world government. He can't. "And that's, what, a thousand years?" she asks... "What comes after that?... Imagination runs out... We probably just imagine things based on what we already know, and we run out of analogies in the thirty-first century."

I tried. I didn't get far at all before I fell asleep, and so I'm going to try again. But I agree that it is hard. And that's why so much SF fails to become a still-readable classic, imo.

message 8: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 140 comments Mod
Two quotes that are meta, are about books, moved me:

"Turning the pages of this encoded codex, I realize that the books I love most are like open cities, with all sorts of ways to wander in. This thing is a fortress with no front gate. You're meant to scale the walls, stone by stone."

I pretty much agree. Books that show off how innovative or brilliant the author is don't excite me. I am not feeling any urge to read Ulysses by James Joyce, or Marcel Proust's mulit-volume Remembrance of Things Past, which may be best used to provide booster seats for the entire day-care.

The other thing Sloan says is something that I did recognize as something I loved when I first read this book years ago: "When you read a book, the story... happens inside your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes."

(Which is why I will never listen to audiobooks in traffic, in unfamiliar towns no matter how quiet, or in a sketchy neighborhood.)

message 9: by Ralph (last edited Aug 23, 2020 05:55AM) (new)

Ralph McEwen | 22 comments I have finished the book. I did not get as intrigued as Cheryl, but I did enjoy the story. Now on to The Boys in the Boat.

back to top