Even if it hadn’t been so enjoyable on its own merits, it would totally have been worth it for the phrase “feral librarians”!
End of (Minor) Spoiler
So much of this story resonated with me. I wonder if one would have to be of a particular age (or older) and remember libraries not unlike this (the library in my town was more central than this one, so what happened in the story – at least, the good part – couldn’t have happened, though the bureaucracy could have, and may well have).
I also liked hearing about Ann’s favourite books in the introduction. We have some favourites in common – I loved the Edward Eager books (and still do, and am now able to share that love with my daughter!) – and there are many she mentioned that I haven’t read that I am now looking forward to investigating. (My tastes, or at least the books that I knew about as a child, ran to more straight fiction, like the Alvin Fernald stories, the Danny Dunn series, almost everything by Cleary, and the Great Brain books.)
And, like Ann, my heart is wrenched every time I see those old, loved books put out as Discards. I did a similar rescue mission with a few of the Great Brain books (though not the actual copies I’d read as a kid – different library in a different city) as Ann did with the Norton.
I loved Rachel’s reading. Did I detect a bit of emotional choking-up in her voice near the end there? It would have been hard to avoid; I was rather overcome myself, even though I saw it coming. (In my opinion, an ending you can predict is fine, as long as it’s the right ending! And besides, I only predicted its general nature, not its specific form.)
This is – and I imagine will be for a long time to come – my favourite PodCastle episode.
I have been so looking foward to the return of PodCastle, checking daily, like a girl might check the post for a letter from her soldier-love. (Okay, that was a lame analogy, but it was old-fashioned, and I think the librarians would have liked it.)
I was having a lot of fun listening to the story, so much so that I managed to forget for a little while that with any sort of “reality” making an appearance, one had to acknowledge that in some ways Dinsy’s completely sheltered upbringing bordered on child abuse, or at least neglect.
This thought took full shape at the door with the key, as visions of some creepy Witch-Ya Sisterhood (with unsettling implications) danced through my head.
Luckily, all was made right in the end, and we’re left with just a wonderful tale, and a shout-out to what WE will likely be the last generation to see: an old fashioned library, where many of us first learned that magic was real.
I loved it. Absolutely. I loved it so much I wanted to share it with my wife. We both shared a love of the Carnegie Library while stationed in Pittsburgh over the past four years, and I thought the story would strike a chord in her.
My wife, who is a green-eyed, black-haired beauty I met while she was studying for her Masters in Library and Information Science, hated it. She found it sappy.
Everyone wants a magical childhood, or at least wishes it for the children. It took seeing “Dinsy” in print, before I perceived reference to “Disney”; the ultimate purveyor of kiddy fantasy for us nouveau geezers.
[…] If you want to read more of Ms Klages’s work, I highly recommend that you check out Portable Childhoods. I discovered her through the PodCastle podcast, they have at least two of her stories included in this collection of short stories in recent podcasts. […]
A simply wonderful story that makes me want to get back to that Gene Wolfe on the bedside canbinet. Klages managed to create an interesting blend of Ballardian slipstream and magical realism without really tieing the story down to any genre.
Wow, that was great. Well imagined and written, especially the blend of the familiar with the fantastic. Nothing over the top, just fun fantasy in a real world setting.
I had to laugh at the librarians’ comments on the early teen years, exactly what we said about our daughter: “remember when she was a sweet kid”. They still are at heart, and we know that as parents. We are really lamenting for ourselves at the transitions we go through as our children grow up. We love every part of our kids, even the parts that want to break free of us.
The independent characters of each librarian really helped to develop and move the story, and Dinsy wasn’t simple or naive. And I didn’t make any real comparisons to witches (ala Andre Norton or other semi-magical genres) until the very last.
Although it did remind me (a LOT) of Norton at the very end when I finally looked back and compared all the librarians.
And I had to laugh at the reference to Marian. My daughter played Marian (the librarian) in a college production of “The Music Man”. Although no librarian never hummed “Stairway to Heaven”…
And I really loved the “10 things to remember” for the library.
I enjoyed the start of this story so much that I didn’t even wait for it to be done to write this comment.
It wasn’t the magical library that grants wishes that made me love this. It was how the author constructed perfectly how it feels to be in the library at such a young age. It feels full and as if every book is telling its own story all at the same time.
The story also reminded me how wonderful it is to form new words with your mouth. This was common when I was young, but it is becoming harder to come by.
Oh, I wanted to like this so badly. Raised by feral librarians! A beautiful, wish-granting building! So much time alone with books!
Sadly, I found the story soft-toothed and cliched. None of the librarians I know would want to be stuck in time and all would realize that it’s the “outside world” that creates the exact thing that they protect.
As for Dinsy, she held no fascination for me at all. I couldn’t care less what happened to her after she left the library.
It’s stories such as these that make me truly desire to become a character within them. Only the finest of literature can evoke a feeling that brings to try desperately to climb within it. By the end of the story I desperately wish that I was the eighth of the seven librarians!
The imagery was unprecidented. I especially loved the descriptions of the fireplaces and Children’s Room. It brought me back to memories of my own childhood library.
When I was a little girl, my most frequent fantasy (and this was before boys entered the picture) was that I would run away and make my local library my new home. I think one time, I tried hiding during closing time just so I can stay the whole night, reading all the books I ever wanted. Unfortunately, the librarians weren’t as whimsical or sweet as the ones in this story.
Listening to this brought back all those magical feelings of the library I used to have in full force. I love the beauty of Dinsy and how she was raised not just by the librarians, but the library itself. I loved, loved, loved the fairy tale feel and Klages’ style of writing. It’s rare that I listen to a podcast twice, but this one I definitely want to sit down in a quiet room and listen for pure enjoyment.
And then I think I’ll start going to the library more.
I liked this a lot – especially how the library was some kind of growing, living, vibrant organism itself (constantly adding to its own collection, and offering up boons to its caretakers/keepers, although maybe their relationship was more symbiotic). I’m a librarian myself, and have had discussions with friends of mine about having our own “not public” library to enjoy and look after. But I’m with Dinsy – I’d like to get out into the world and see what *it* has to offer.
Loved the story! Better yet my children (ages 6 and 8) could listen and enjoy it as well! Great choice. Please, please continue to offer family friendly fantasy. It is truly magical to share these stories and continue to build their love of the written word.
Perhaps you could convince P.M. Butler to write another another Squonk the dragon story?
I listened to this one on the way home from a convention with my own librarian sweetie. We both very much enjoyed the story, although she would neither confirm nor deny a secret magical society of librarians. (I did always suspect as such, though.)
I loved this – especially the idea of the kitchen as a “taxonomic battleground” (I’m a librarian who constructs thesauri and taxonomies for a living…); this is definitely one I’ll be listening to another time…
[…] – Ellen Klages (read by Rachel Swirsky) [rating: 5] audio / freebie / read Nov. 18-19, 2012 / PodCastle Technically this is a mere short story but since the audio version is a little over an hour long I […]
[…] “The House of the Seven Librarians” which first appeared in Firebirds Rising and which I got to narrate for PodCastle, and which you can get a kindle single version of, too. But by no means is this the only wonderful […]