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The Book on Fire by Keith Miller
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The Book on Fire (2009)

by Keith Miller

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462391,440 (4.33)3
"Balthazar, book thief and bon vivant, arrives in Alexandria to steal from the famous library. But from the moment he steps off the boat, a veiled figure shadows him. Zeinab, literary prostitute and avenging ghost, will be his chaperone through the city of books. With her help, he succeeds in penetrating the underground library. But once inside, instead of ransacking it, he becomes obsessed with the younger librarian, Shireen, who was born in the library and is herself more than half book. Their love story forms the heart of the novel. Balthazar schemes to get Shireen out of the library. But Zeinab has plans of her own"-- Publisher's description.… (more)
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In Miller's typical style, this book is written in a poetic and lyrical way. Some of the characters are more defined than others. It speaks to me as I am a lover of books. It was easy for me to relate to the passion felt at holding a particular book and I was devastated at the end. I dreamed about what the Library of Alexandria looked like, and what it would be like to be one of the people who protected it. This book spoke to me in so many ways. ( )
1 vote alb2219 | Mar 12, 2014 |
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Call me Balthazar.
Quotations
This was a new species of sadness. The sadness of starlight traveling a million years to crumple in the bay, of Oum Koulsoum's contralto detailing the remnants of a lover's campsite, the sadness of writing a letter you'll never send.
I read them over and over. The others can't understand. They laugh at me, they say I'm surrounded by a billion books, that I should read each book once and move on. They think I must be slow-witted, that I don't understand what I read unless I reread. They think I'm sick. They can't understand that I'm not reading the book, I'm trying to wear it. I'm trying to eat it.
There is no shortage of books, beautiful books, costly books, on this planet. But occasionally, in my life of crime, I've come across a volume that annihilates me.
I had never before watched someone read an entire book. It was like watching someone live a life in three hours.
The great libraries of the world are filled with people ruined or beatified by books. They walk through the hallways twitching a thousand voices in their ears. They have no idea whether you're real or a character from a printed page.
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Book description
Balthazar, book thief and bon vivant, arrives in Alexandria to steal from the famous library. But from the moment he steps off the boat, a veiled figure shadows him. Zeinab, literary prostitute and avenging ghost, will be his chaperone through the city of books. With her help, he succeeds in penetrating the underground library. But once inside, instead of ransacking it, he becomes obsessed with the youngest librarian, Shireen, who was born in the library and is herself more than half book. Their love story forms the heart of the novel. Balthazar schemes to get Shireen out of the library. But Zeinab has plans of her own . . . In sumptuous, evocative prose, 'The Book on Fire' explores the relationships between creation and destruction, between belief and imagination, between desire and fulfillment.
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