By Robin Sloan
A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times publication Prize for First Fiction, named a top booklet of the 12 months via NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle
The nice Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon clear of lifestyles as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour book shop. yet after a number of days at the task, Clay discovers that the shop is extra curious than both its identify or its gnomic proprietor may well recommend. the shoppers are few, and so they by no means appear to purchase anything―instead, they "check out" huge, imprecise volumes from unusual corners of the shop. Suspicious, Clay engineers an research of the clientele's habit, looking aid from his variously gifted acquaintances. but if they create their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they detect the bookstore's secrets and techniques expand a ways past its partitions. Rendered with impossible to resist brio and awesome intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is strictly what it feels like: an institution you should input and may by no means are looking to leave.
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Is that this the museum emergency hotline? aid, King Tut’s tomb is empty! It earrings back. “Hey, dude, what are you doing over there? ” Tabitha calls around the room. I wave brightly—everything is simply fine—then grab up the handset, grab it shut, and whisper, “Hello. Cal Knit. ” “This is Consolidated common long term garage calling,” says the voice at the different finish of the road. It’s a girl, and he or she speaks with simply the tiniest twang. “Put me via to accessions, may perhaps you please? ” i glance around the room: Tabitha is pulling first-graders out of a cocoon of eco-friendly and yellow yarn. one in all them is a bit pink within the face, like she’s been suffocating. at the telephone I say, “Accessions? That’s me, ma’am. ” “Oh, you're so well mannered! good, pay attention darlin’, somebody’s taking you for a ride,” she says. “The—let’s see—ceremonial artifact you simply submitted is already on dossier over the following. Had it for years. you usually have to money first, hon. ” It’s all i will be able to don't to leap up and begin dancing in the back of the table. I compose myself and say into the telephone, “Gosh, thank you for the heads-up. I’ll get this man out of right here. He’s absolutely sketchy, says he’s a part of a mystery society, they’ve had it for 1000's of years—you recognize, the standard. ” the lady sighs sympathetically. “Story of my lifestyles, hon. ” “Listen,” I say calmly, “what’s your identify? ” “Cheryl, hon. I’m genuine sorry approximately this. no one likes a decision from Con-U. ” “That’s now not actual! I get pleasure from your diligence, Cheryl. ” I’m taking part in the half: “But we’re beautiful small. I’ve truly by no means heard of Con-U …” “Darlin’, are you severe? we're merely the most important and such a lot complicated off-site garage facility serving the ancient leisure area anyplace west of the Mississippi,” she says in a single breath. “Over the following in Nevada. You ever been to Vegas? ” “Well, no—” “Driest position within the complete usa, hon. ” ideal for stone drugs. ok, this can be it. I make the pitch: “Listen, Cheryl, might be you could aid me out. the following at Cal Knit, we simply bought a tremendous supply from, uh, the Neel Shah Foundation—” “That sounds great. ” “Well, it’s colossal through our criteria, which isn’t that giant in any respect. yet we’re placing jointly a brand new exhibition, and … you’ve obtained the genuine Gerritszoon punches, correct? ” “I don’t be aware of what these are, hon, however it says right here we’ve received ’em. ” “Then we’d prefer to borrow them. ” i am getting the main points from Cheryl, say thank you and so long, and healthy the blue handset again into position. A ball of eco-friendly yarn comes arcing throughout the air and lands at the entrance table, then rolls into my lap, unraveling because it is going. i glance up, and it’s the redheaded first-grader back, status on one foot, sticking her tongue out at me. The first-graders jostle and fidget on their long ago out into the parking zone. Tabitha closes front door, locks it, and limps again to front table. She has a faint purple scratch throughout her cheek. I begin spooling up the golf green yarn. “Rough type? ” “They’re speedy with these needles,” she says, sighing. “What approximately you? ” I’ve written the identify of the garage facility and its Nevada deal with on a Cal Knit memo pad.