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IBG Tuesday Meetup - Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan

Hi All,

Hope you are not getting too wet with the recent rain we have been having.

Below is a write up from the last Tuesday meetup we had. I was not able to attend that meetup, so the below was written by William.

We had a fine evening discussing Homo Faber, a classic of 20th century 
 European literature which is relatively unknown in the English speaking 
 world. Walter, the central character presents the tragedy of his life as  series of chance encounters and coincidences, but we mused on his 
 responsibility for his own actions, implied in the title which suggests 
 that Man is the architect of his own fortune.  We reflected on his faith 
 in technology as being the key to progress and civilisation, giving him a 
 myopic perspective on life devoid of interest in art, history and the awe 
 inspired by the nature.  His meeting with his daughter shows him a way of 
 discovering his humanity and the ability to exercise his emotions and 
 imagination, albeit with destructive consequences.  We spent longer than 
 average discussing the book and could easily have continued late into the 
 evening, such was the impression that it made.  I'd highly recommend it to 
 the group.

 We then picked the next book:

 Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan, suggested by Sharona

 It was chosen ahead of:

 The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis (suggested by Mark)
 The Forgiven by Lawrence Osbourn (suggested by me)

 Brief synopsis:

 Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a Web-design drone 
 and serendipity coupled with sheer curiosity has landed him a new job 
 working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. And it 
 doesn't take long for Clay to realize that the quiet, dusty book emporium 
 is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few 
 fanatically committed customers, but they never seem to actually buy 
 anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes perched on 
 dangerously high shelves, all according to some elaborate arrangement with 
 the eccentric proprietor. The store must be a front for something larger, 
 Clay concludes, and soon he has plugged in his laptop, roped in his 
 friends (and a cute girl who works for Google) and embarked on a high-tech 
 analysis of the customers' behaviour. What they discover is an ancient 
 secret that can only be solved by modern means, and a global-conspiracy 
 guarded by Mr. Penumbra himself...who has mysteriously disappeared.


It sounds like a great read. I can't remember the last time I read a mystery / thriller like this one.

I hope to be able to make this meetup. If I can't then someone else will host it.

See you then,


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  • William

    Thank you to everyone who came last night, it was a really good discussion.

    Just a reminder of the next book selected for the Tuesday October meetup:

    The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe.

    Look out for the official notification which will hopefully be posted soon.

    September 3, 2014

  • Morgan

    hi! I hope it is not too late, but I would love to join you tonight - the RSVP is now closed, but I promise to not take up too much room!

    September 2, 2014

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