Ian Sansom's fourth in the Mobile Library Series
is a 3-D book. No, it is not a pop-up book. Nor is it so described because the characters and their small town in Northern Ireland emerge fully formed like Venus from the sea, although that's certainly part of it. It's because in addition to depth and definitude, Sansom adds a third dimension: daftness. Daftness is such a rarified dimension, a stratum where only the immensely gifted can survive. Here is where Sansom thrives. The characters, the plot, the town of Tumdrum are daft indeed. But it's a smart, snappy, literate daftness that reveals insights into the scope of life.
As Peter O'Toole's character, Alan Swann, says in the movie My Favorite Year
, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." The number of truly funny storytellers is and always has been vastly outnumbered by melodramatists (my own word for writers...
Beyond the Book
Ian Sansom on Libraries, Writing, and Flapjacks
On his website Ian Sansom speaks about the role libraries have played in his life:
"Libraries are places where you go to invent and reinvent yourself, or maybe just to use the toilet, if they have toilet facilities, and to find out how other people have reinvented themselves, and what they've written on the walls, and the desks, and in the books; they're a wonderful hiding place, but also a way back out into the world. The whole point of a library is that you don't have to buy the books you read. You don't have to undergo the agony of going into bookshops, those brightly-lit half-houses of the soul, and shelling out your...