Monday, November 19, 2012

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan

Clay Jannon's out of work, having lost his job with a designer bagel start-up.  He's about to give up hope when he happens on Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore and gets a job as a clerk.  It's an odd store.  There are "normal" books, but there are also books that are assigned numbers and that are given to odd customers who don't pay for them but who turn in other books instead.  Before long Jannon is involved in code-breaking, a cult that finances itself by selling a font, and a woman who works for Google.  

There's more.  A lot more, including the books that Jannon and his friend Neal loved as a kid, The Dragon-Song Chronicles, which it might not surprise you to discover are more than they seemed.

This novel is sort of a love song to books and technology, and Robin Sloan obviously loves both.  Google-haters might as well not even open the book.  They'll be gnashing their teeth well before the ending.

I enjoyed Sloan's writing and sense of humor, I liked his nods to Dashiell Hammett and others, I liked what he says about physical books and their pleasures, and I got a kick out of his weird plot.  I can see why some might not, but it worked for me.  Check it out and see what you think. 


  1. This is on my nightstand, in my (closest) to-read pile.

    At night when I turn off that nightstand lamp to sleep, the spine of "Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" softly GLOWS in the dark. Given its story-line of the magic of books, the subtle luminescence makes me smile...

  2. I liked MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOK STORE, too. Loved the homage to sword & sorcery novels, loved the cult and the codes. Robin Sloan is a writer to keep an eye on.

  3. This looks great, and the library has it. Unfortunately, I'm # 212 of 212 holds on 16 copies... it'll be a good while until it is available.

  4. Anonymous2:18 PM

    I'm only #14 in my library for this. I'm still #131 for GONE GIRL, but as I started at over 800 I'm getting (reasonably) closer.

    As far as nightstand piles I must admit that unlike most people I don't have one. When I go to bed it's to sleep, not to read. My reading is done elsewhere.


  5. I actually picked this up for my Kindle and really enjoyed it. A book gee book ...

  6. Anonymous7:24 PM

    Number 96 at our library. Can't resist designer bagel shop to bookstore.