|The Archive of the Forgotten
Copyright © 2020 by A. J. Hackwith
This turns out to be the second novel in a series. I may have to seek out the first one, The Library of the Unwritten.
Essential, intense, emotional lives, scrubbed down and stripped away and honed to a cutting edge. Thats how you fascinate a reader. Characters are more real than real. Thats what fiction is. Why else do stories make them suffer or make them change? Theyre mirrors and foils. [...] We fall a little in love with every character we meet. Maybe the story of humanity is learning to be brave enough to be the character in their own story.
Apprentice Librarian Brevity, 2016 CE
|7||They burn them first, the stories. Humans always come for the stories first. Its their warm-up, before they start burning other humans. Its their first form of control, to burn the libraries, to burn the books, to burn the archives of a culture. Humans are the stories they tell. If you want to destroy your enemy, destroy their stories. Even if the people survive, it will be as if they never existed at all.|
Mad . . . now, thats a peculiar term, and, saints, dont they love applying it to women. Women have a special facility for madness. Were encouraged to go mad over the littlest things, because if our anger caught and held on the big things, wed shape the world.
Its acceptable to be mad; its dangerous to be angry.
The secret is that I am both.
Librarian Fleur Michel, 1792 CE
So much frivolity and fuss over the human soul. Youve got to wonder why. [...]
Let me tell you, from someone with lifelong experience owning one, a souls not that shiny on the inside. A grand bother, it is. We spend half our life worried about preserving it, then the rest of it worried that we havent spent the currency well enough. Better if we never knew we had one, in my opinion. Life is for the living; leave worrying about souls for the dead.
But there was no chance wed be that sensibly ignorant. Not in a world so lousy with stories.
Souls: pesky, powerful stuff.
Librarian Fleur Michel, 1784 CE
Humans were ridiculous creatures, in Heros expert opinion. They always saw what they wanted to see and ignored the rest. No creature edited its own reality so viciously as a human. [...] A rational creature might at least consider whether any paradise one has to sacrifice others to get into is worth the price of admission.
But no, not humans. Even in death, they picked and chose a comfortable sort of truth.
The quiet was less forbidding, just knowing Rami was there among the aisles. It was funny, how companionship did that. Like how just knowing there was a campfire to return to made the night feel less dark, even when you were far from it.
We have to let go of a story, give up the reins, when we ask it to be read. We pretend its like making any other product, bread for the hungry or coats for the cold. But what no author admits is that its not like that at all. Stories are not made of flour or wool. Stories, real stories, are made with a sliver of yourself.
The purpose for stories is what readers will make of them. But the reason, the desperate need, is a splinter in the author alone. A good story gets under your skin, because thats where all good stories start.
Librarian Bjorn the Bard, 1313 CE
There is no library of secrets. Secrets cannot be kept or curated. Secrets have no need for a library, but each library needs secrets. Books are a secret hidden in plain sight. Read me, they say. Look at me. Turn my pages. Touch my spine. Read my words, and content yourself.
Every book is a secret that only readers know.
Librarian Ibukun of Ise, 904 CE
So this is my charge: We will be librarians. True to the books, but even more important, dedicated to those who have yet to read them. Understand that our duty does not end at the end of a page. Stories must serve the living, not the reverse. If knowledge is freedom, then we must be chain breakers. If theres one thing I learned from the specter of my predecessor, it is this: to be a librarian is to be in rebellion against time, against the world.
Librarian Madiha al-Fihri, 612 CE
What is a story without want, without need?
Moreover, what is want, what is need, without a story?
Librarian Gregor Henry, 1896 CE
Stories are slivers of us, all of us. What makes a story real is the soul of the author. Were humanity, splintered into the stories we tell ourselves. I doubt the old demon would be pleased to know Ive rediscovered this. Ill need to feign ignorance; perhaps we all will. But future librarians need to know.
The logbook keeps a librarians secrets, until theyre needed. Well then, old book. It appears we have work to do.
Librarian Fleur Michel, 1782 CE
|38||There was a reason people read in corners. It was a room made of one. Spine curved, arms bracketed, and the remaining walls made of the reassuring weight of a book. A self-constructed universe, for as long as you needed it. Or as long as the story lasted.|
text checked (see note) Jul 2023