Thursday, April 18, 2013


My replacement arrived today. Wouldn't that make a great first sentence of a novel? Instead, it's the actual story of my life. For the past several weeks I have been divesting myself of the evidence of a deeply satisfying twenty year career in librarianship. Hundreds of documents have been shredded, my desk burnished to a shine it hasn't seen in years. Photos have disappeared. Awards relegated to a jewelry box or, temporarily, to my home office. I really wanted to make it seamless for the lovely young woman who is now occupying my space, leaving no trace of the one who was there before.

I guess I misjudged how dislocated and invisible I would feel as I temporarily camp out in another cubicle, taking up space for a couple of weeks while I transfer to her my knowledge of the building, its quirks and peculiarities, its penchant for ceiling leaks, slow running toilets, and an air conditioner that insists on shutting down fifteen minutes before closing.

Customers I've known for years are heading north for the summer. I let them know that I won't be there when they return. Some are so happy for me, hugs and kisses ensue, while others ask that crazy, foolish question, "What will you DO with yourself?" I want to reply, "Are you talkin to ME?" Can a reader ever be bored? Doubtful.

Still, I have mixed feelings about leaving. I define myself by what I do. I'm a librarian. And, after May 10th, I will still be a librarian. It's a mindset, an openness to the improbable, a belief in knowledge and the sharing thereof. It saved me at a time in my life when I didn't think too much of myself and my own abilities. My mentors have been legion. The satisfaction, tremendous.

But those sands in the hourglass run faster as they grow fewer. I've got books to read, opinions to express, a best friend to share life with, a family that may need me, and a finite amount of time. I'll be reviewing more than ever and actually have the time to write more than once a week! And speaking of books, here's what I've been working on lately.

It seems that Library Journal now sees me as their "go to" person for all things Africa. In quick succession I've read and reviewed Khaled Hosseini's four-star novel And the Mountains Echoed. Here's the review which was posted at the Barnes and Noble website:
Library Journal
This bittersweet family saga spans six decades and transports readers from Afghanistan to France, Greece, and the United States. Hosseini (The Kite Runner; A Thousand Splendid Suns) weaves a gorgeous tapestry of disparate characters joined by threads of blood and fate. Siblings Pari and Abdullah are cruelly separated at childhood. A disfigured young woman, Thalia is abandoned by her mother and learns to love herself under the tutelage of a surrogate. Markos, a doctor who travels the world healing strangers, avoids his sick mother back home. A feminist poet, Nila Wahdatire, reinvents herself through an artful magazine interview, and Nabi, who is burdened by a past deed, leaves a letter of explanation. Each character tells his or her version of the same story of selfishness and selflessness, acceptance and forgiveness, but most important, of love in all its complex iterations. VERDICT In this uplifting and deeply satisfying book, Hosseini displays an optimism not so obvious in his previous works. Readers will be clamoring for it. [See Prepub Alert, 11/04/12.]—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Estero, FL

My review of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's knockout novel Americanah will be published in the next edition of Library Journal. I also just submitted a review of a debut by a young woman gorgeously named NoViolet Bulawayo. Look for We Need New Names next month. This week I'm starting When Hoopoes go to Heaven by Gaile Parkin. So you see, I'm no slacker! I'll work hard to keep your interest and maybe even come back with some tips from the Book Bloggers' Convention at Book Expo next month in New York City. Stay with me!


TooManyBooks said...

Well, I for one will never forgive you for retiring before me! :))
Looking so forward to BEA! NYC, here we come!

Sallyb said...

So sorry but it's time. Hope your move goes smoothly. Hearing fab things about the Tom Hanks/Ephron play. Can't wait.