In the Stacks

ISBN 10: 1585672599 / ISBN 13: 9781585672592
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Synopsis: Libraries, with their miles and miles of books are, for writers and readers alike, the magical portal to new worlds-the source of terrors, delights, and pleasures aplenty. Here, in one volume, noted author and librarian Michael Cart has assembled a fascinating collection of twentieth century short fiction about libraries and librarians: from such classics as Borges's "The Library of Babel" and Isaac Babel's "The Public Library," to such contemporary gems as John Cheever's "Trouble of Marcie Flint" and Lorrie Moore's "Community Life." Love, lunacy, obsession, and the joy of reading come together in a collection that readers, booksellers, and librarians would agree is long overdue.

Review: There are some readers who will take one look at In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians and yawn, and there are some who will pounce upon it eagerly. For those of us who find libraries strangely romantic, Michael Cart's anthology captures the duality of a place both private and public, both hushed and wholly congenial. Unsurprisingly, many of the stories are devoted to the stereotypical librarian: frustrated, spinsterish, and fussy. In Lorrie Moore's contribution, "Community Life," protagonist Olena goes to graduate school for English literature but ends up a librarian, lonely and unable to connect. Alice Munro explodes the library myth a bit with "Hard-Luck Stories," in which a librarian admits that her work "'really is one of those refuge-professions.' Which didn't mean, she said, that all the people in it were scared and spiritless. Far from it. It was full of genuine oddities and many flamboyant and expansive personalities." In the Stacks drags the library into the light of day: Anthony Boucher sets a mystery among the books; Walter R. Brooks gives us a Mr. Ed story; and there's some Ray Bradbury weirdness. The collection rightly ends with the glorious "Library of Babel" by librarian-seer-fabulist Jorge Luis Borges. --Claire Dederer

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Title: In the Stacks
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