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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:

Lost Mary Shelley Manuscript Unearthed

By Brian Hoey. Apr 1, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Rare Books

For years, Mary Shelley was sadly overlooked as a writer. Though she created one of the most iconic monsters in literature in her novel Frankenstein (1818), for more than century after her death she was often thought of as a one hit wonder. Or she was thought of as Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter, or philosopher William Godwin’s daughter, or Percy Shelley’s wife and literary executor. That is, when she was thought of at all.

     
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Mickey Spillane: Hardboiled Detectives and Salted Peanuts

By Brian Hoey. Mar 9, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mystery, Suspense & Crime

"Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.” Mickey Spillane

For a writer, one of the most depressing literary pantheons is the “books written in a matter of weeks” category. This includes such classics and arguable classics as Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930, written in six weeks while the author worked as a security guard), Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957, written in three weeks on a 120 foot long roll of paper), and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989, written in a 28 day “crash” during which time he didn't see anyone, answer any mail, answer the phone, etc.). While not a classic by anyone definition, Dostoevsky’s The Gambler (1866) was written in about a month in order to pay off a gambling debt. Also on that list is hardboiled mystery writer Mickey Spillane’s 1947 first novel, I, the Jury—which marked the debut of the iconic private eye Mike Hammer.

     
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Carl Bernstein: Mystery Writer

By Brian Hoey. Feb 14, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

The Big Sleep (1939). The Maltese Falcon (1929). All the President’s Men (1974). These three books represent some of the best mystery writing produced in the last century. And yet, one of these things is not like the others: where Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett honed and perfected a particular kind of detective novel, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s account of corruption and fraud within the Nixon administration leverages the conventions of those novels to present us with something all too true. Though All the President’s Men isn't a novel in the strict sense, it often reads like one—a good one, at that. As a reader, you’re fascinated by the investigative process, you feel real stakes and tension, you want to keep turning pages to figure out whodunnit, and that’s precisely what made the book so powerful.

     
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7 Interesting Facts About Jack Nicklaus

By Brian Hoey. Jan 21, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: First Editions

Jack Nicklaus is such a wildly accomplished golfer that listing out his achievements almost seems tedious. Though, perhaps it would reflect the slow, systematic nature of golf itself to cite each of his 18 major championship victories, his 73 PGA tour victories, and his double and triple career grand slams. After the spirit of his own writings (more on those later), however, we’ll keep the introduction brief: Jack Nicklaus is probably the greatest golfer of all time, and throughout his long and varied life and career he's done and accomplished a number of odd, surprising, and delightful things. Here are 7 of the most interesting.

     
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The Lost World: 5 Books Steven Spielberg Almost Adapted

By Brian Hoey. Dec 18, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins

Steven Spielberg (who turns 73 today!) is more than just one of the most successful and well-respected directors in Hollywood—he’s also a prolific adapter of books and other literary works for the silver screen. Some of his best known works, from Jaws (1974) to the Color Purple (1982) to Jurassic Park (1990), were originally based on books of various levels of literary acclaim. Because one of the great all-time literary and filmic pastimes is comparing novels to their screen adaptations, the book lovers of the world owe Spielberg a huge debt of gratitude (the fact that many of these films are truly great on their own doesn’t hurt either). 

     
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Eloise, C’est Moi: The Real Life of Kay Thompson

By Brian Hoey. Nov 9, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

There’s been plenty of speculation about what Eloise would be like as a grown up. Sarah Ferrell at the New York Times wrote that, “today, she’d probably be on Ritalin.” Carolyn Parkhurst at the New Yorker put together a short piece in 2014 imaging Eloise as a 46-year-old (still) living at the Plaza Hotel, which includes the line, “Some mornings, I wake up with a rawther awful hangover.” Surely somewhere there is a more optimistic take on the life trajectory of the maximally whimsical and mischievous among us—but the consensus seems a little bit dark.

     
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Michael Crichton: The Arthur Conan Doyle of the 20th Century?

By Brian Hoey. Oct 23, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mystery, Suspense & Crime

If you’re good with dates, dear reader, you no doubt have a number of objections ready based simply on the title of this blog post. The Hound of the Baskervilles, which represents Sherlock Holmes’ first appearance after he was unceremoniously killed off by his author, actually appears in 1901, with a slow trickle of additional Holmes stories and other writings throughout the aughts, teens, and twenties. So, in point of fact, Arthur Conan Doyle is the Arthur Conan Doyle of the 20th century. We could call Michael Crichton the Conan Doyle of the Cold War, but Jurassic Park (1990) was published after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Let’s say instead that Crichton, who was born 12 years after Doyle’s death, could be Arthur Conan Doyle reincarnated.

     
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How Jesse James Became an American Myth

By Brian Hoey. Sep 5, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Movie Tie-Ins

This blog post is not the first place it’s been pointed out that the Wild West era lasted a scant few decades—compared to the century-plus of folk songs, dime novels, movies, TV shows, and other forms of myth-making that take up (and sometimes interrogate) the inherent romance and drama of the era. Given all that, it shouldn’t really surprise us that Wikipedia’s article on “Cultural depictions of Jesse James” is almost as long as the article on James himself. And yet, the piece leaves out what is arguably the first piece of popular culture that took up the life (and death) of the one of the West’s most notorious outlaws: the touring stage show put on by Robert Ford, James’ assassin, dramatizing the moment when Ford himself put a bullet in the back of James’ head.

     
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Happy Birthday, Sean Connery!

By Brian Hoey. Aug 25, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, Movie Tie-Ins

Today, “The Greatest Living Scot” (according to The Sunday Herald), turns 89. Just as much as author Ian Fleming, Sir Sean Connery brought James Bond to life and forever defined him as a character—so much so that Fleming eventually began writing details from Connery’s life into Bond’s backstory. Those of us here at Books Tell You Why who appreciate a good literary adaptation (read: all of us), can’t help but recognize the role that Connery played not just in bringing Bond himself to life, but to bringing the whole world of past and future literary superspies into the greater public consciousness. Without him, it’s hard to imagine a universe in which Tom Clancy and John le Carré entered the realm of blockbuster films. Connery himself even starred in the 1991 film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October (1984).

     
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Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate and Song of Solomon Author, Has Died

By Brian Hoey. Aug 7, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language.
That may be the measure of our lives.”
-Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture 1993

Toni Morrison, author of Beloved and Song of Solomon, died peacefully in her home on Monday, surrounded by her family. Morrison was the first African American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her books were commercially and critically acclaimed and rightly find their way onto many collectors' shelves. Today, we honor Ms. Morrison's life and work.

     
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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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