Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl

The Last Bookaneer (2015) by Matthew Pearl is a very interesting book with a great concept that didn't quite live up to the thrilling precedent set by Pearl's previous books I've read -- but was an enjoyable read just the same.

I like books and pirates are pretty cool, so the idea of book pirates has a lot going for it, which is why I originally picked up this book (that, and I really loved The Technologists and The Dante Club). While there was certainly plenty of action in this book, I think it wasn't quite at the level of his previous books mostly because of the narrative structure -- as most of the story is told via a character reminiscing, there is less at stake. You of course know right away that the narrator lives through the story since he is telling it! And there was a little bit less overall character development than I would have liked.

But the setting was lovely (I liked the contrast between Europe and the tropics) and the combination of books, legal quagmires, adventure, sea travel, and famous authors made it a fun read. And I certainly appreciated the extent to which books themselves were honored by many of the characters in the story.

At the end, I was glad to have read the book -- it was a good story, it just maybe wasn't what I was expecting based on his other books. This was much more in the category of adventure fiction, rather than literary thriller. Overall, pretty good.

“Strangers talking over piles of books do not remain strangers for long.” (p. 22) 
“Authors do not create literature; they are consumed by it. As a bookseller, I am often asked if I didn’t dream of being an author, but I should rather think it is the author who learns to dream of becoming a bookseller. I do not seek the mantle of genius. I am an appreciator, an observer, a preposition, and content in that, and that is me in a nutshell.” (p. 90)

Keep reading! Beth

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