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
From Publishers Weekly
Contributions from such major figures as Borges, Cheever, Alice Munro and Ray Bradbury carry the day in In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians, assembled by former librarian Michael Cart (My Father's Scar). Borges's well-known "The Library of Babel" is the best of the bunch, with its thought-provoking musings on the possibilities of an "infinite" library. Cheever chips in with a noteworthy contribution in "The Trouble of Marcie Flint," a typical exploration of infidelity and the dark side of suburbia. A handful of the remaining stories are pedantic, underdeveloped or ill-conceived, but there's more than enough wheat among the chaff to make this an intriguing collection.
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