The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
The Night Bookmobile is a graphic short story that tells the story of a young woman who encounters a mysterious, disappearing Winnebego that carries the most valued elements of her past on the streets of Chicago. The night bookmobile is run by Mr. Openshaw and its hours run from Dusk to Dawn. Exploring through the stacks and stacks of books, Alexandra discovers that the bookmobile houses every single book she has every read, or attempted to read in her life. This chance encounter draws Alexandra into an almost obsessive cycle of reading, and trying to find the bookmobile once again, even going so far as to become a librarian to one day work for the bookmobile and The Library.
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. – Jorge Luis Borges, “Poema de los Dones”
This is the quote that kept running through my head while I read this graphic novel. Alexandra’s chance encounters with the bookmobile are sporadic, but timely. She always comes across the bookmobile at a major turning point in her life, three major turning points to be exact. This book reads more like a cautionary tale against having too much love of reading and books (something unheard of among bibliophiles). Seeing the path Alexandra is drawn down is somewhat disturbing, but maybe because I see myself in her place. Who wouldn’t want their heaven to be full of books, read and unread? Audrey Niffenegger made an interesting point in the afterword:
As I worked it also became a story about the claims that books place on their readers, the imbalance between our inner and outer lives, a cautionary tale of the seductions of the written word. … What is it we desire from the hours, weeks, lifetimes we devote to books? What would you sacrifice to sit in that comfy chair with perfect light for an afternoon in eternity, reading the perfect book, forever?
It is a very haunting story, very much in step with Niffenegger’s style. I love my books, I love the stories, the characters and the lives I can spyon in any book I pick up and read. But I’m not sure what I would sacrifice for that perfect book in that comfy chair with the perfect lighting. This book brings up many thoughts on life and death, being anti-social and the difference between living for a dream and living in reality. I think any reader who comes across this book should take a pause and really understand why they read and just where books fall in line with their priorities.The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger Abrams, 2010 ISBN 9780810996175 33 pages