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May 17, 2013 by Reader's Connection

GlaciersI bought Glaciers, the 2012 novel by Alexis M. Smith, because words of praise by Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia, appear on the back cover.

No doubt I would have been attracted to it, anyway, when I learned that Isabel, its main character, works in a Portland, Oregon library. She repairs damaged books.

Up and down the hall are other small offices and meeting rooms for others like her: the subspecialists, the techies, the genealogists, the archivists. The librarians work upstairs, in larger, brighter, carpeted rooms, with newer computers and more comfortable chairs. This part of the basement was once a bomb shelter; her office was once a mop closet.

Yo-ho. We follow this young woman through one day, during which she muses on her family, her history, her identity. She’s interested in a techie guy at the library, a vet who served in “the war.” This is the first novel I’ve read in which the narrator uses those words and assumes that we’ll know she means the war in Iraq. (She gets around to explaining that, but her usage still struck me.)

Isabel’s life, spent in Alaska and the American Northwest, makes for an absorbing tale.┬áThere were moments when Smith’s prose felt cute, but the novel is so short that I can read it again, and see if I was just in a funk when I read those bits.

Glaciers is also available as a downloadable e-book


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