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Brian Hoey
Writer and all around book nerd, Brian puts his English degree to good use turning words into magic. A great lover of beer, baseball, and books, he can write on Baltic Porter and Katherine Anne Porter with equal ease.

Recent Posts:

The History of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

By Brian Hoey. May 18, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

While the Hans Christian Andersen Medal is often touted as the Nobel Prize of children’s literature, the $600,000 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is the actual title holder for the richest prize in children’s lit—and with a list of honorees that includes Maurice Sendak and Philip Pullman, it may one day grow to match the earlier prize in prestige. After all, the awardwhich is given “by the Swedish people to the world” to one or more international authors, illustrators, oral storytellers, or organizations each yearresembles the Nobel in its lofty aims of promoting literary idealism in its mission to promote children’s access to high quality culture.

     
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Tom Wolfe: Fiction, Journalism, and Legacy

By Brian Hoey. May 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

Tom Wolfe, acclaimed journalist and writer, has died at the age of 88. In his honor, we revisit his life and work today. The prospect of writing a blog post on Tom Wolfe and his influence is daunting. The man who has been such a presence in the world of American letters these past forty years, having authored The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), looms large, not just over a new generation of writers and journalists, but over the blogosphere in particular. He did, after all, call out blogs for being "a universe of rumors," citing Wikipedia in particular as being an institution that only "a primitive could believe a word of." How a primitive could successfully navigate all the way to Wikipedia may be a good inquiry for another time, but the pressing question still remains: how do you blog about the man who hated blogs?

     
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Collecting the Works of Dean Koontz

By Brian Hoey. May 3, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Book Collecting, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Like the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, Dean Koontz is a man of many names. Following the advice of an early publisher, Koontz determined that he might alienate fans of one genre by publishing under his own name in another. Given how many genres Koontz was going to publish in, it was necessary to have a whole host of pseudonyms (like David Axton, Leigh Nichols, and Brian Coffey) to preserve his image across his various milieus, which ranged from horror and thrillers to satire, science fiction, and mystery. Given that he was, during his era of peak productivity, publishing as many as eight novels a year, it’s a miracle he was able to keep track of them all.

     
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Ten Fascinating Facts About Gabriel García Márquez

By Brian Hoey. Apr 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Mario Vargas Llosa, Magical Realism

Especially on this blog, Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) author Gabriel García Márquez needs little introduction. William Kennedy declared that Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) was, "the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race," and the Nobel Prize committee seemed to more or less agree, bestowing the honor on a Colombian writer for the first time ever largely in recognition of One Hundred Years of Solitude in particular. Carlos Fuentes called him, "the most popular and perhaps the best writer in Spanish since Cervantes." Here are some interesting facts about him.

     
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VLOG: Long Stitch Bookbinding

By Brian Hoey. Apr 11, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making

Medieval Germany: it brought us Otto the Great, the formation of the Hanseatic League, and the first stirrings of the Protestant Reformation. It also, as best as we can discern, brought us long stitch bookbinding, a non-adhesive form of bookmaking (meaning it eschews the use of glue or other adhesives) that gained some popularity in 18th and 19th century Europe.

     
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The Top 11 T.S. Eliot Quotes

By Brian Hoey. Apr 6, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

Born in St. Louis, Nobel Prize winner T.S. Eliot remains one of America’s most treasured literary exports. The poet who famously authored “The Waste Land” (1922), “Four Quartets” (1943), and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915) also tried to revive the verse-drama genre (most notably with 1934's The Rock) and was an astute literary critic, giving advice to young writers who hoped to carry on the poetic traditions that Eliot himself reshaped. Though his social reputation was one of stuffiness and formality (Virginia Woolf liked to refer to Eliot as wearing a “four piece suit” to dinner), he was actually an avid prankster, once setting off stink bombs in the lobby of a posh hotel—and this playful sensibility is alive in works that can often seem obscure and forbidding. This is not to say that his work, often inspired by his Anglican faith, doesn’t have an imposing moral seriousness to it. Perhaps Robert Frost said it best: “We are both poets and we both like to play. That's the similarity. The difference is this: I like to play euchre. He likes to play Eucharist.” Here are some of Eliot’s most memorable quotes.

     
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Tell-All Book Describes Clandestine 1967 Moon Mission

By Brian Hoey. Apr 1, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Science, Book News

In 1969, with the rapt attention of a mystified global audience, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon—in fact, he became the first human being to set foot on any terrestrial object other than the earth. After years of training and buildup, Armstrong’s mission (which also included Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who would stay in orbit during the moonwalk) represented a pinnacle of human exploration and achievement that has been unmatched in the ensuing decades. With his iconic declaration, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong punctuated one of the most meaningful firsts in humanity’s history. Or so we thought until now…

     
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Five Works of Poetry You'll Never Get to Read 

By Brian Hoey. Mar 21, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Rare Books, Book History

In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 story "The Library of Babel", he describes an infinite library containing volumes that feature every possible combination of symbols. At one point, some of the inhabitants of this library go on a rampage, wantonly destroying many of the unique, unread books. While many of their fellow denizens are outraged that works with no copies have been expunged forever, they eventually reason that if the books really are infinite, then any particular destroyed volume will have an accompanying volume that is almost completely identical, and that, really, no harm can be done. I’m not sure whether that should make us feel better or worse when we think about all of the lost and destroyed works of art throughout the literary millennia, but in honor of World Poetry Day, let’s take a look at some works of poetry that we’ll never be able to read.   

     
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Collecting Nobel Prize Winners: Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Despite being a country of fewer than 5 million people, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize in Literature winners: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the highest Literature Nobel Laureates per capita outside of St. Lucia, which counted the late poet Derek Walcott among its 150,000 or so residents, even without James Joyce (who was famously snubbed) to round out the list. (Sweden appears to be a close third, with 8 prizes and a population just under 10 million). In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be turning the attention to two of the Emerald Isle’s most gifted writers: George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney.

     
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Hawthorne Heights: How John Updike Rewrote "The Scarlet Letter"

By Brian Hoey. Mar 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Remember the film Easy A (2010), in which Emma Stone stars as a high-school student ostracized for her (invented) promiscuity? In the film, Stone’s character eventually takes to wearing a read letter “A” on her person in reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal novel of adultery and Puritanism, The Scarlet Letter (1850), on which the film’s screenplay is partially based. In one sense, it’s amazing that Hawthorne’s novel, which was one of America’s first important literary works, continues to assert its cultural relevance in the 21st century. In another sense, though, we really oughtn’t be surprised. After all, there have been numerous instances of artists updating The Scarlet Letter for contemporary audiences. In one particular such instance, “contemporary” meant 1988, and the artist was the revered John Updike. 

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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