Treasure Hunting   2 comments

I hope the next book Alexis M. Smith writes will be much, much longer
than her debut novel, Glaciers. At only 174 pages it is obviously terse,
yet remarkably rich in detail with characters I wanted to spend a lot
more time with.

The storyline follows a day in the life of Isabel, a Seattle librarian who re-
pairs damaged books and whose primary interactions are with those who
are also somehow wounded. That may sound either dry or familiar (The Hours
comes to mind since Isabel plans to attend a party later that day), but Smith
writes in a lyrical, understated manner that is immediately enticing.

Isabel’s story takes place in less than 24 hours, but it is not confined to that
time frame. Her dreams, her family, and her childhood in Alaska are all beau-
tifully crafted to create a complex, sensitive woman with a penchant for vin-
tage clothing and old photographs. Isabel recounts her first trip to a thrift
store with her father who explained they were hunting for treasures. Initially,
the young girl is uncertain, even fearful she will miss the prize, until her father
says, “If you love it, you will treasure it, does that make sense?” The four-year-
old Isabel takes this to heart, and, ultimately, subtly applies the explanation
to everything from dresses to relationships.

Without giving anything away, one of Smith’s most impressive writing techniques
is the adroit manner in which she makes Glaciers Isabel’s story in more ways
than one.

Four  and a half Bookmarks
Tin House Books, 2012
174 pages

2 responses to “Treasure Hunting

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  1. Ok, I’m going to bite! Have it reserved at the library.

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