Sunday, November 20, 2011

Story Sundays- Audrey Niffenegger, Moths of the New World

photo credit: C.M., 2008

"The man saw a woman climb into a book and disappear."

What if books were spirits, with fears, yearnings, longings, and desires? "Moths of the New World" (the Guardian, November 7, 2011) - a fantastical, funny, and oddly appealing short story by one of my favorite authors, Audrey Niffenegger - explores exactly that. In it, Moths of the New World, a rare and exquisite book, has gone missing from The Library's collection. A Librarian (also a spirit) is sent out into the real world (the City of Chicago) to retrieve her. He finds her holding hands with Workers, Arise!.... an organizing pamphlet! (*gasp*). Will she stay... or will she go home?

Though the short story doesn't have quite the sophistication and polish of her novels (both The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry are among my very favorite books), this imaginative supernatural concept is charmingly and wittily carried out. There is something lovely and ethereal about the idea of a woman emerging from a book and disappearing back into it, and a great deal of humor in her falling in with a "bad boy" labor pamphlet of a boyfriend. The story also winks at the current-day literary/publishing world:
"More time went by. Moths of the New World wondered if anyone at the Library knew she was gone. For the first time, she wished she had been a bestseller."

It's a story well worth enjoying for the bookish creativity, or just a delightful little dose of Audrey Niffenegger, in case you (like me) have been missing her.

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Story Sundays is a weekly meme created by Ellen at Fat Books, Thin Women and also celebrated at Novelniche: A Place for Books. Be sure to check out their blogs for wonderful Story Sunday selections and other excellent reviews!


  1. Hadn't heard of this one. I like Her Fearful Symmetry and try to give it away often as possible. I love the cover too for Her Fearful Symmetry. I will have to take at look Moths of the New World. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yes yes, love Her Fearful Symmetry- absolutely stunning book! She is such an interesting and original storyteller- Hope you enjoy this short story.


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