GOODREADS SUMMARY | Knopf Canada | Paperback, 96 pages | December 2nd, 2014 | Young Adult Fiction | Rating 3 out of 5 Stars
Murakami is another author whose work I’ve yet to experience. I’m told he’s brilliant. I’m told he pulls his readers into fantastic realms believable enough for them to consider it their versions of reality. This one is an oddity of a book. One whose purpose and intention remain a mystery to me. I read this book a couple of weeks ago. And at 96 pages – half of which, are illustrations – I am at least afforded the luxury of a multiple re-reads. But man, I’m still scratching my head on this one.
The Strange Library is a short novel about a boy whose thirst for knowledge landed him in a prison-like stint in the basement of his local library. As he returns the books he borrowed previously, the voracious reader decides to read up on tax collection in the Ottoman Empire. His mother always taught him that “If you don’t know something, go to the library and look it up.” The librarian directs him to Room 107, where an old man guards the door like Hades guards the gates of hell. He then gives him three books upon which he’ll learn that he’d need to memorize in order to leave the premises.
In the jail cell, the boy will meet the sheep-clad man in charge of feeding him, and a pretty shape-shifting girl in charge of bringing him the food. Throughout the course of his imprisonment, he is sadden with thoughts about his mother and his pet starling. He befriends the sheep man and the girl, and convinces them to help him break out.
This book is wildly imaginative. I’ll give it that. It reads more for the younger audience. It reminds me Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane; a short tome meant to put the readers’ mind in a series of light calisthenics. In the end I walked away with the knowledge that my imagination does not have the capacity to handle certain authors, and I have a feeling Murakami and I will not get along. I’ll give him another go, though.