The second time I saw The Night Bookmobile it was another chance encounter.
Something wonderfully odd happens to people who have huge bestsellers-they kind of lose their minds. Stephen King, James A. Michener, and J.K. Rowling all decided that having a base of reader meant they could crank out stories with millions of words. Other writers have decided that this means they have been touched by God and need to do a bit more preaching than they used to. And some decide to explore other mediums besides the boring world of the novel.
Audrey Niffeneggerwrote one of my all time favorite books, The Time Traveler’s Wife. She followed it up with an Ok novel called Her Fearful Symmetry and a couple of graphic novels. The Night Bookmobile is more a graphic short story, but to be honest, I have not kept up with the sprawling world of hardbound comic books.
I used to read comics and I was still paying attention when the Graphic Novel became something of a big deal. I read a few and found them not worth the extra cost or worthy of all the hype they were generating. Now it seems that Graphic Novels have become an excepted form of literature. The local libraries have whole sections devoted to graphic novels. Amazon has nearly 150,00 thousand graphic novelsfor sale. Graphic novels are made into movies and make millions of dollars. Saying your reading a Graphic Novel sounds much better than saying your reading a comic book.
The Night Bookmobile is about 30 pages long and tells the tale of a woman obsessed with a strange Winnebago that carries around all the books she has ever read. The Winnebago has a very Tardis like quality of being larger inside than it is outside. The Night Bookmobile is driven by a strange old man who works for The Library. Our hero wants to work for The Library as well, but the driver of the Night Bookmobile tells her that she can’t. Several years pass and our hero kills herself, now she finds herself in The Library and finds that she has been assigned her own Reader.
Audrey says that The Night Bookmobile is the start of a much larger work. I tend to have mixed feelings about that. While I was not all that impressed with Her Fearful Symmetry, I did like it. When a writer creates a book you love, you always hope for another one like it. I find her drawings for The Night Bookmobile to be a bit crude, though that is common enough in the world of graphic novels. As a lover of her novels, I’d rather she didn’t spend too much time with this type of work.
I do like the general idea of The Library. Having spent a few years going to Estate Sales, I have always been drawn the book shelves and from time to time I have found a library that was so close to my own tastes that I find myself wishing I could have known this person. We would have had a lot to talk about. And I also love the idea that somewhere is a list of all the books I have ever read, or ever started. There are countless books that I have loved and then forgotten the title and could never find again.
The Night Bookmobile is an odd little story-it ran in the Guardian a few years ago, if you want to have a look at it.