by Connie Willis
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Jim is in New York City at Christmastime shopping a book based on his blog—Gone for Good—premised on the fact that “being nostalgic for things that have disappeared is ridiculous.” Progress decides for people what they need and what’s obsolete. It’s that simple. Of course, not everyone agrees. After Jim bombs a contentious interview with a radio host who defends the sacred technology of the printed, tangible book, he gets caught in a rainstorm only to find himself with no place to take refuge other than a quaint, old-fashioned bookshop.
Ozymandias Books is not just any store. Jim wanders intrigued through stacks of tomes he doesn’t quite recognize the titles of, none with prices. Here he discovers a mysteriously pristine, seemingly endless wonderland of books—where even he gets nostalgic for his childhood favorite. And, yes, the overwhelmed and busy clerk showing him around says they have a copy. But it’s only after Jim leaves that he understands the true nature of Ozymandias and how tragic it is that some things may be gone forever…
From beloved, multiple-award-winning, New York Times best-selling author Connie Willis comes I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land, a novella about the irreplaceable magic of books.
Connie Willis is one of my favorite authors, and her works were absolutely formative for my teenaged self, but this novella didn’t quite work for me. I was fascinated by the descriptions of Ozymandias Books (gosh, I would love to spend a week there!) and I was very amused by Jim’s increasingly outlandish attempts to rationalize what he was seeing, which showcased Ms. Willis’ witty humor. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the story felt heavy-handed, and I finished the story feeling unsatisfied by the resolution. It felt like revenge on Jim for his previous beliefs, and it did have a bit of fairy tale feeling in that sense – that of the person who’s gone to fairyland and comes back somehow irrevocably broken by the knowledge he’s gained. Irregardless of my feelings, it was thought-provoking for me, as I’m one of those readers who’s switched pretty much entirely to ebooks and only buy physical books at library book sales (which are then usually donated again once I’ve read them) or, rarely, signed copies from favorite authors.
Overall, even though I didn’t care for it that much, since it’s so short I think I would still recommend this to bibliophiles.