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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Thursday, March 20, 2008 2:23 pm
Welcome Back Again, Israel Armstrong
Posted by: Keir Graff

I like lots of librarians, but my favorite librarian doesn’t actually exist. (Which certainly makes it less politically awkward than if I were to choose a favorite librarian who did exist.) Welcome back again, Israel Armstrong.

“We’re librarians actually,” said Israel.

“Come again?”

“Librarians.”

Israel thought that Barry’s face coloured slightly at the mention of the word “librarian” and that perhaps he twitched nervously inside his cheap suit with its expensive-looking lining. But then twitching nervously in the presence of a librarian wasn’t an uncommon response–librarians, like ministers of religion, and poets, and people with serious mental health disorders, can make people nervous. Librarians possess a kind of occult power, an aura. They could silence people with just a glance. At least, they did in Israel’s fantasies. In Israel’s fantasies, librarians were mild-mannered superheroes, with extrasensory perceptions and shape-shifting capacities and a highly developed sense of responsibility who demanded respect from everyone they met. In reality, Israel couldn’t silence even Mrs. Onions on her mobile phone when she was disturbing other readers on the van.

Ian Sansom‘s first Mobile Library Mystery, The Case of the Missing Books, was wonderful. The second one, Mr. Dixon Disappears, didn’t work as well. The third one, The Book Stops Here (which will be published in August), made me laugh almost as much as the first.


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