Librarian

Overview


How on earth did nebbish university librarian David Goldberg end up on Virginia's Ten Most Wanted Criminals list for bestiality? And how did he get ensnared in a vast right-wing conspiracy to steal the presidency? It all begins so innocently when Goldberg starts moonlighting for eccentric, conservative billionaire Alan Carston Stowe as an archivist. But Goldberg's appointment worries a cabal of ruthless right-wingers—ostensibly allies of Stowe, whose money lubricates their zany scary conspiracies—with very close...
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The Librarian: A Novel

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Overview


How on earth did nebbish university librarian David Goldberg end up on Virginia's Ten Most Wanted Criminals list for bestiality? And how did he get ensnared in a vast right-wing conspiracy to steal the presidency? It all begins so innocently when Goldberg starts moonlighting for eccentric, conservative billionaire Alan Carston Stowe as an archivist. But Goldberg's appointment worries a cabal of ruthless right-wingers—ostensibly allies of Stowe, whose money lubricates their zany scary conspiracies—with very close ties to the White House. They fear that Goldberg will find something in Stowe's records that will compromise the dirty tricks involved in re-electing Augustus Winthrop Scott, the dim scion of a powerful Republican political family, for a second term. As the presidential election heads into its final stretch, the hunt is on to remove Goldberg from his position—by any means necessary. The acclaimed, Edgar-winning mystery writer Larry Beinhart returns with this timely novel. In the tradition of Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard, and Joe Klein, The Librarian is a frenetic, scary and hilarious thriller that goes deep into the dark heart of election year politics.
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Editorial Reviews

Neil Genzlinger
The story is outlandish fun, but it carries with it a serious critique of the electoral process, the American power structure and the real-life conduct of both President Bush and the news media. Beinhart's descriptions of the machinery of politics can be devastating.
— The New York Times
Dennis Drabelle
Beinhart mixes the right amounts of humor, violence and politics to make his fable work. Yes, he throws in the occasional political diatribe, but it never goes on too long, and there's usually another narrative jolt waiting on the other side. The writing is breezy, with occasional bursts of inspiration, as when David rates a kiss from Niobe "as good as a sentence by Hemingway, back when he was good."
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Beinhart's first novel in a decade (the last, American Hero, became the film Wag the Dog) takes a worst-case scenario conceived by leftist conspiracy theorists and runs riotously rampant with it. The Octavian Institute, an evil think tank, controls the George W. Bush-like president, Augustus Winthrop Scott, and has a plan for world domination called the Project for the New American Century. Holding the financial strings of Octavian is elderly magnate Alan Carston Stowe, who has endless circles of henchmen. Into this cabal wanders unsuspecting David Goldberg, the librarian of the title, moonlighting from his university library job at Stowe's private collection. A series of misunderstandings-involving, for starters, a horny horse and a flirtatious married beauty named Niobe-turn David into a hunted man. The chase story line counterpoints Scott's dirty (and highly criminal) campaign for re-election against morally upstanding Vietnam veteran Anne Lynn Murphy. The plot turns in funny directions-David, for example, teams up with fellow librarians Inga and Susanne to form a Mission: Impossible-esque squad-but it's a tribute to the Edgar-winning author that he never winks at the reader. Though some elements are over-the-top, a creepy feeling of plausibility persists, and comic as it is, the novel completely engages interest as a thriller from start to finish. Agent, Bonnie Nadell. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
David Goldberg works for a university library by day and moonlights organizing the library of an eccentric billionaire. While in the private library, he discovers major secrets that could topple the current presidential administration. The incumbent, up for reelection, decides to have David eliminated rather than risk exposure. Readers may recall Edgar Award winner Beinhart's politically motivated American Hero, brought to the big screen as Wag the Dog, starring Dustin Hoffman. This novel-the author's first in ten years-is a step below in terms of literary quality: it reads less like a thriller than a thinly veiled attempt to satirize the current administration. The book's title is also misleading, since the story offers little perspective on what makes this profession unique. Be wary and purchase only if diehard conspiracy theorists come begging. Anti-Bush readers may prefer Nicholson Baker's biting novella The Checkpoint. [For an interview with Beinhart, see Front Desk, LJ 9/1/04.-Ed.]-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Just in time for Election Day, Beinhart, re-enlisting in the liberal ranks of Michael Moore, Nicholson Baker, and The Manchurian Candidate, serves up a barn-burning political thriller complete with recipes for how to steal a presidential election. The key figure, and virtually the only innocent, in the game of hardball politics is David Goldberg, a college librarian who gets eased into a second job cataloguing the papers of billionaire developer Alan Carston Stowe and then suddenly learns that Col. Jack Morgan, of Homeland Security, is sending four underlings to kill him because he's found out a dread secret. The good news is that David's alerted to the plot by Morgan's sexy wife Niobe, somebody he's already paying special attention to. The bad news is that he doesn't know what he's supposed to know and has no obvious way to find out in the five days before the forthcoming election ends the historic contest between hard-riding figurehead Augustus Winfield Scott and his come-from-nowhere Democratic challenger, Sen. Anne Lynn Murphy. Both candidates field organizations bent on decimating the opposition, but Scott's America-first minions, David gradually realizes, have in reserve "one-one-three," a knockout punch as diabolical as it is legal. The man-on-the-run plot is proficient persiflage; the bonus here is another dose of anti-Administration satire from the author of American Hero (1993), filmed with its target changed from Bush 41 to Clinton as Wag the Dog. Beinhart lays about him with a nuclear-tipped cudgel, analyzing Fog Facts ("known, but not known"), casting Kenneth Starr as a color commentator for Fox (Scott's angry post-debate outburst is "such a trivial, innocuous event. Afterall, it's not sex"), and watching Morgan worry whether David is "some deep cover, Democratic Party operative, or some Arab terrorist, or spying for Israel."Voters in the blue states will find it all irresistible, along with readers from sea to shining sea.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560256366
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 9/9/2004
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Librarian


By Larry Beinhart

Nation Books

ISBN: 1-56025-636-2


Chapter One

Elaina Whisthoven loved books and presumed they would love her back and she wanted to serve humanity, so she became a librarian. She wore large glasses and had large curls that were always clean and always brushed and never styled. She lived like a nun on her meager starting salary in a room she rented from a retired professor and his elderly wife, empty because their own children had grown up and gone west.

When I fired her, her mouth opened but she couldn't speak. I thought she wavered where she stood. She was slender and probably had an attractive body under her dowdy clothes, but to imagine undressing her, even mentally, would have made me feel like I was the Marquis de Sade disrobing Justine as the prelude to sordid and perverse desecrations.

When I fired her I felt like I'd broken some delicate flower, snapped its stalk, and crushed its petals.

She had done nothing wrong. Nothing at all. I told her that.

Her mouth moved, I couldn't hear the words, but I knew she'd said, "I must have."

"No, no, your work was very good," I said, trying to repair the damage that I was watching myself do. She stood there and I could see that my words had no effect and the tearing apart was continuing, down from her eyes, through her slender, quivering neck to her chest. I was frantic to explain, and I said, "The national budget, you see, it was designed to destroy government services." I didn't know if she disagreed with that as an unacceptable allegation or she was just stuck like a fawn who had wandered out on the highway. "And that has had its effect on our state, as with so many others." I thought she shook her head slightly. "I know our president said he was the education president and it's hard to imagine that he's deliberately set out to destroy public education, but he has and it has hit our school along with all the rest. The chancellor of the university has a privately funded study that he received from the Heritage Institute, on libraries, both public libraries and academic libraries, and it says that there are far too many physical volumes. That all of this can be replaced, except for some rare volumes of historic value, perhaps, by a great cyber-library, one library for all, accessed from our home and office PCs. That would cut down on the need for almost all librarians, except for the cyber ones and it would make all this space available." I gestured to the reading rooms and stacks outside my office, both on this floor and down below four levels and one up above. "That would create additional savings by cutting the need for capital construction. This could be turned into classrooms, or dorm rooms, which actually earn money."

"Personally," I said, "I like books," and I thought she might cry and I might, too. She, for her crushed sense of self, and myself, from guilt and love of books, poetry even, "and," I said, emphatically, "I don't like reading anything serious on a screen and I feel, though I don't have the funding to prove it, that my feelings are more than a personal prejudice. I've noticed and I'm sure you have, that when students work at computer stations they tend to multitask. While they're supposedly reading they're downloading music and playing games and having instant messenger conversations and looking at ..." I stopped myself from saying porn but couldn't quite cut off the train of thought and made it, "... erotic materials," and still I felt like I'd made an inappropriate remark. It was too much for her and she began to cry and turned and ran out, even as I was saying, "So you see, it's budget cuts, budget cuts, not you."

I didn't think she heard that.

After all that, I didn't think she would ever speak to me again, but some six months later, on a fine day in early autumn, at the beginning of the new semester, she showed up at the library and asked to see me. She looked stressed but determined and I remember that she wore a blue dress with a floral design on it. And sensible shoes. "I have a job," she said.

Rarely have I felt such relief. "That's wonderful," I said.

"I work, I have a job," she said, sort of a stutter, "in a private library sort of situation."

"That's good," I said.

"You've heard of Alan Carston Stowe," she said. It was not a question. But I nodded yes, I'd heard of him. I didn't know his age offhand, but he was quite old. He lived on a great estate not too far away. He had inherited significant tracts of land in Virginia and realized that he could subdivide, build, and sell, and make a profit. Not a startling revelation perhaps, but he took to it with rare will and enthusiasm and went into the business of buying more land, subdividing, building, and selling. Then he added malls and industrial parks and was one of our national leaders in the creation of sprawl. He probably wasn't the first or the only one, but he got a lot of credit for introducing McMansions, the SUVs of the new home market.

"It's only part-time," she said. "Two or three hours, in the evening."

"Well, still," I said.

"I, I lied ... no, no, I didn't lie, Mr. Hauser ..." that was the retired professor she rented a room from, "... it was when I still, during the severance period, when I was still receiving my severance that I applied for the job, Mr. Hauser made me say that I was still working because that would give me a better chance at the job and then he said if I weren't making any money at all he would have to kick me out and I would be homeless and I would not be very good at being a homeless person."

"It's OK," I said. "Technically it wasn't a lie, it was OK. You're a good person, Elaina."

"I need your help," she said.

"What can I do?" I asked her.

"I need ... I have some stress," she said. "I need to not go to work for a few days."

"What?" I mumbled, asking what it had to do with me.

"I'm very afraid of losing the job, so I thought perhaps if I could get someone to cover for me, it would be all right and I wouldn't get fired for not coming in."

"Why not just call in sick?"

She shook her head, full of terror. She was such a nervous mouse. I pulled out my staff list, wondering who would appreciate a few extra hours a week. Or I should say, who would appreciate it most, as we all needed it? I mentioned a few names and realized she was moving her head in a way that meant no, nothing so emphatic as a shake, but it was clear that I had gotten the wrong message.

"What is it, Elaina?"

"Would you do it?" she blurted.

"I don't know," I said. "There are several ..."

"I'm really afraid of losing this job. I asked Mr. Stowe and he asked who there was and I mentioned Inga, Ms. Lokisborg, and he said that would be all right, after all she's the head librarian, but ... but ..."

"What is it?"

"She refused. She got angry with me."

"I'm sorry."

"So I thought, perhaps, you're head of library services, actually ..." rather than say that I was higher than Inga, she made a gesture, "... and I know you would do the best job and so if you went, they wouldn't be disappointed. Please," she said.

In the ordinary course of things, I'm sure I would have said no, but when the petals that you've crushed drag themselves up from their crumpled place in the mud, and ask you to rescue them, what can you say?

That evening, promptly at 6:30, I arrived at Stowe Stud Farm, which was where old man Stowe lived. It had not been subdivided. It was 230 acres of prime real estate. If you've ever gone to England and done a tour of the stately homes with ponds dug out and hills raised up to create the bucolic fantasies of landscape architects like Capability Brown, sheep-cropped lawns and fences stacked from flinty native stone and ancient trees standing noble and alone with nothing but well-groomed grass at their feet, then you've some idea of the place.

I had made Elaina call ahead, so at least I was expected.

It was a working horse farm. I only saw the horses from the window of my fourteen-year-old Saab, but from what I did see, they looked to be as groomed, glossy, and costly as the land itself.

A man in a sort of uniform answered the door and it came to my mind that he must be the butler, but I'd never been to a home with a butler before, so I didn't know and I didn't ask, in case he was the son and just dressed in a peculiar way. When I introduced myself he led me into the house. What filet mignon is to a Big Mac, this house was to Stowe's McMansions. It was the dream that they were the ticky-tacky imitation of and a blow-by-blow and detail-by-detail description of the wood and the paintings and the polish and the carpets and the furniture will not alter that simple essence in any useful way.

The library was wonderful, the literary portion of the dream that was the house. While we were closing earlier and earlier and cutting Sundays and holidays and our walls were blank and barren and the steel shelves were unadorned and it all flickered under that shuttering light that fluorescents put out, this had mahogany shelves and tungsten lighting and fine comfortable furniture.

Stowe was old and had the look of a crank about him. "Where's Miss Lokisborg?" he said.

"She wasn't available," I said. "Actually I'm head of library services and Ms. Whisthoven hoped you would find my qualifications satisfactory."

"Well, well, you tell Miss Lokisborg what she's missing. You'll do, I suppose. You know the assignment, do you?"

"Well, somewhat," I said, "but you can tell me if you like."

"Shouldn't have to tell you. Workers should know their job. All my people know their jobs, or they're out on their cans. You will be, too, if you get it wrong."

Libraries are free places. They are clean, dry places in a stormy world. They are full of ideas and information. With all of that together, they tend to collect kooks and wackos and people who bring shopping carts with them, filled with conspiracy theories. Even a university library with restrictions on access and with campus security. There are, after all, quite a few members of the faculty and student body who have wandered off the deep end of the pier. Over the years I've grown accustomed to them and learned to think of them as harmless and I'm never offended by them and I've learned that the best way to handle them, if there's no incidence of a physical violation, is on their own terms. Stowe seemed like one of them, so I treated him like one of them and nodded along, neither offended nor patronizing.

"There are secrets here," he said, "great secrets."

"I'm sure," I said.

"Sign," he said, and slid a set of papers toward me across the reading table at which he sat. I looked down and the wood on which the black-and-white page rested was so deeply polished that the ceiling and the lights and old man Stowe and my hand and arm were all reflected in it and we looked like the distorted dwarves who live in the mud world at the bottom of the river.

The pages themselves were a confidentiality agreement. It was boilerplate, the basic statement that a corporation or a rich man makes to a poor man, that if you tell my business, I am entitled to ruin you, strip the shirt from your back, remove the shelter from over your head, take the wheels from your ride as well as whatever monies you have put aside as comfort in your old age. Of course, I signed, assuming that he would not have anything that I would have any need, or desire, to disclose. After all, I was only going to be there two days while Elaina rested or went to the doctor or whatever she was doing.

"Do you like poetry?" he asked, while I patted my pockets for a pen.

"Yes, I do, very much," I said.

"I mean the real kind, with rhymes!" he said. "And something to say!"

"Like, 'You may talk o' gin an' beer when you're quartered safe out 'ere,'" I said, reciting "Gunga Din." I suppose I was subconsciously prompted by the twenty-six bound-in-red-leather complete works of Rudyard Kipling on the shelves.

It is the story of an Indian water boy serving the British Army, who is so loyal to his masters that he takes a bullet for the British soldier who is the narrator. It is a paean to Imperialism and full of casual racism-'for all 'is dirty 'ide, 'e was white, clear white inside ...' Nonetheless, Kipling had great gifts, almost unequaled gifts, powerful narratives, comfortable colloquialisms, his poems are full of humanity and they march along in perfect step like the tramp of well-trained infantry, they never strain for rhymes, indeed, the rhymes are often so strong that they feel as if the things they say could never have been said any other way:

I shan't forgit the night When I dropped be'ind the fight With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been. I was chokin' mad with thirst, An' the man that spied me first Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din. 'E lifted up my 'ead, An' 'e plugged me where I bled, An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green; It was crawlin' an' it stunk, But of all the drinks I've drunk, I'm gratefullest to the one from Gunga Din.

He's the poet of boys' adventures, as well as imperialism, and I did love him, memorized him, obviously, when I was ten, maybe eleven years old. There's something noble, you know, in boys that age, that innocently aspires to be rootin', tootin', gun-totin' cowboys and Indian scouts and explorers, members of the King's own Musketeers and, yes, soldiers of the Queen.

Stowe had been a ten-year-old boy, too, once upon a time, and he learned those poems back then and now he mumbled along and urged me on, to the rousing, sentimental finale:

An' just before 'e died, "I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din. So I'll meet 'im later on At the place where 'e is gone- Where it's always double drill and no canteen; 'E'll be squattin' on the coals Givin' drink to poor damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din! Yes, Din! Din! Din! You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din! Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, by the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

He rang a hand bell and the maid came in within seconds and he said, "Rita, get me a drink," and he didn't have to explain to Rita what he wanted a drink of, or how it was to be made, "and give the librarian one, too."

It was some sort of expensive bourbon, but I had no way of knowing which because it was in a decanter. I sipped appreciatively, as did he, though he drank faster and deeper than I did. "When I was a boy," he said, "the map was red. I don't mean the Communists," he added with a snap.

"I understand what you mean," I said.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Librarian by Larry Beinhart Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2004

    Not a Bush-hating liberal

    This is an interesting, entertaining read that is as much a thriller as it is a political satire. Despite the tone of the comments of the three previous customer reviews, it is possible to enjoy this book if one is not a Bush-hating liberal. While Beinhart scarcely, at times, veils his contempt for the current Adminstration, he never loses his story in a grandstanding diatribe against Bush the younger. He does, however, provide plenty for readers of all parties to consider. The story itself is somewhat implausible, but it is remarkably easy to suspend one's disbelief and get caught up in it. I would recommend this book for anyone. Great for a day when you have enough time on your hands to read to hyour heart's content; you will not want to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2004

    This is a must-read!

    Fascinating, fast-reading book. I couldn't put it down. Very informative about the political policies currently in use. Based on the truth, with a very apt-to-happen ending. After reading this latest book by Larry Beinhart, I'll be reading everything he's written. Wish there were more books out there, that were as enlightening and absorbing. Just finished the 9/11 documentary, and found it equally informative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2004

    If you want to know the outcome of the Bush/Kerry campaign, read The Librarian by Larry Beinhart.

    The Librarian is a fast paced thriller about middle-aged librarian who stumbles onto a sinister plot by supporters of the incumbent President to hold on to the presidency. The librarian isn¿t looking for trouble or excitement; he just happens onto it when he accepts a part time position working in a private library owned by of the President¿s wealthiest and most influential supporter. Without at first understanding the nature of his job, the librarian is put to the task of cataloguing the devious ways that the supporters of the incumbent President have planned to win the election, including ways to steal back the presidency in the courts and elsewhere if, by chance, the incumbent loses the popular vote---not that a President could find himself in office after losing the popular vote. The nerdy librarian doesn¿t even want to be a hero. He merely wants to pursue the love interest of the stunning wife of the rootin-tootin ex-military man who coordinates the Machiavellian sub-plot to steal back the Presidency. (There, I¿ve given it away; the President once again loses the popular vote). But in this case, all the President¿s men conspire to kill the librarian and his friends so they will not divulge the secrets behind the power to the throne. If you want to find out how this election comes out, you must read The Librarian by Larry Beinhart and then wait until the first week of November---or perhaps a little longer if the Courts move slowly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2004

    A page turner - that frightenly could be true

    this book had me spellbound and caught up into the life of a lonely Librarian. There is an incredible chase scene at the horse farm - i was so upset about the promise of the libarian being hunted and hurt - that I had to put the book down for a day - then went back to it more calmly - thinking or rather knowing that our superhero would be spared- the details were so terrific i had an instant visual of the scenes - - If i saw it in a movie I probably would have gotten up and cheered - it was so vividly described - any way - - just when you think that all is well for our hero - another twist is offered and fear of the outcome descends upon the reader and then i being squimish about people being harmed - put it down for a day- to reflect and calm down to see the amazing solutions offered.However our author does leave of us with a political conundrem - so many points to ponder . In all the Book points out the falacy and vunerabilty of our political system - it doesn't offer solutions but gives us much information to ask our own questions of our politicals. I liked this book and will reread it.

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