As an alternative for a review, synopsis, or anything of the like, I decided to create a soundtrack for the book. Please note that quite a bit of this is intended to be playful and irreverent. I’m rarely serious and this post is no exception.
The Library at Mount Chair by Scott Hawkins is an…unusual book. It doesn’t defy explanation, exactly, but it’s pretty close. I feel like anything I say about the novel would be a disservice. Here’s a quick synopsis, just know that the book is much better than I make it sound.
Carolyn is a librarian. Not the kind you’re thinking of. She and her siblings were adopted by Father when they were quite young. Now Father is missing, and it’s up to her and her fellow librarians to find him. But there’s no need to worry, Carolyn is a planner. She has plotted for just such a contingency, if only she could remember what it was like to be an actual human.
I know I haven’t really told you anything, and I’m not going to. If you enjoy an odd novel, give it a go. I absolutely adored it.
01. One is the Loneliest Number // Three Dog Night.
“Carolyn rose and stood alone in the dark, both in that moment and ever after.”
02. Stranger // Devil Makes Three
“The moon was still up, still full. Americans called this time of year “October” or, sometimes, “Autumn,” but the librarians reckoned time by the heavens. Tonight was the seventh moon, which is the moon of black lament. Under its light the shadows of bare branches flashed across her scars.”
03. I Think I’m Paranoid // Garbage
“That’s the risk in working to be a dangerous person,” she said. “There’s always the chance you’ll run into someone who’s better at it than you.”
04. All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands// Sufjan Stevens
“No real thing can be so perfect as memory, and she will need a perfect thing if she is to survive. She will warm herself on the memory of you when there is nothing else, and be sustained.”
05. Holocene // Bon Iver
“As the days and weeks and seasons wore on he found himself repeating this nothing, not wanting to. Gradually he came to understand that this particular nothing was all that he could really say now. He chanted it to himself in cell blocks and dingy apartments, recited it like a litany, ripped himself to rags against the sharp and ugly poetry of it. It echoed down the grimy hallways and squandered moments of his life, the answer to every question, the lyric of all songs.”
06. Black Hole Sun // Soundgarden
‘”How long before he’s the sun?
“I’m not sure. At least a couple of hours. I’ll come back and fix the orbits later. Can’t have these wee little marbles bumping into one another, can we?”
Steve, who was a plumber, spoke through dry lips. “No, I guess not. When does he turn bright and yellow?” Her face fell a little. “Well…he doesn’t.”
“What do you mean? He’s going to stay like that? All black, like?”
“Yeah, It’s a plane-of-anguish thing.”‘
07. Salute Your Solution // The Reconteurs
“Before I move closer towards my vision of the Buddha, I would respectfully plead that you adopt a stance of compassion towards the small things of this world.”
08. Seashore // The Regrettes
“Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret.
She was smiling.”
09. Raise Hell // Dorothy
“For all intents and purposes, the power of the Library is infinite. Tonight we’re going to settle who inherits control of reality.”
10. The Sky is a Neighborhood // Foo Fighters
“It’s the notion that the universe is structured in such a way that no matter how many mysteries you solve, there is always a deeper mystery behind it.”
Anyone read The Library at Mount Char? Anyone love it as much as I did?