Friday, January 22, 2016

The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl | Audiobook Review

The Last Bookaneer

What a wonderful book!  I saw on the book jacket that a bookaneer is "a literary pirate; an individual capable of doing all that must be done in the universe of books that publishers, authors, and readers must not have a part in."  I love it!  I love the idea of "literary pirates."  (As part of a story... not advocating people actually going out and committing what now constitutes severe copyright infringement.)

The Last Bookaneer is mostly written as an old, former bookaneer telling his tale to a young man.  As the story progresses in both contemporary time and the past, the bookaneer and the young man grow closer and closer, and their lives start to influence each other.

This book has many things I like!  Cross-generational/cross-socio-economic relationships (the bookaneer is an elderly white store owner in the early 1900s; the young man is a black railroad dining car server), books!, history, and an author-as-character.

There's two kinds of history to The Last Bookaneer:  the "contemporary" time in which the story is being told by the retired bookaneer (the early 1900s) and the time during which the bookaneer's last exploit takes place, in the late 1800s.  There's also author-as-character:  Robert Louis Stevenson!  The bookaneer's last journey was to Samoa, where Robert Louis Stevenson is living out the end of his life.

(I totally didn't know that about Stevenson.  And, incidentally, I read Under a Wide and Starry Sky at the same time as I listened to The Last Bookaneer, which is also about Robert Louis Stevenson.  I'm surprised I didn't get confused!  But now I want to read all of Stevenson's works, and a nonfiction bio of him.)

The Last Bookaneer did get off to a little bit of a slow start, but once it got going (and it didn't take too terribly long to get going) it really got going.  A journey to Samoa (at that time practically the end of the world) to commandeer--bookaneer--what might be Stevenson's last book?  YES PLEASE!

More good news:  the narration is excellent.  There are two narrators, so the young man and retired bookaneer each have a very distinct voice.  They both do a great job with pacing and clarity of enunciation and volume modulation.  I was hooked!

*I checked out my copy of The Last Bookaneer from my local library.

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