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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

From an Author’s Life . . .

What Beauty by Mark Beyer; cover art, by Lia Gallegos

I enjoy books that take me into the lives of characters whom I might have wanted to be — or never in my dreams dare to walk in their shoes. These are the kinds of stories I write. Story to me is all about the characters who live inside that world, a world we all know in some small way. And I only read authors who take care to bring their characters alive!

Hello, my name is Mark Beyer. I write novels.

New author bio! …

Mark Beyer has lived in the Czech Republic, Spain, France, and on a Maltese island. He has written about Gozoan fishing villages, the Bohemian capital’s “storybook” lanes, bull running in Pamplona, and living at the base of Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc.

Born and raised in the Chicago area, he taught fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago, was a book editor in New York City, and worked for many years as a journalist. His writing has won awards for the short story (Columbia University Scholastic Competition, 1998) and for news features (Florida Association of News Publications, 2004). His children’s literature, written for schools and libraries, has been translated into numerous languages.

He now makes his home in Europe along with his wife. Currently, he is working on a new novel, and blogs at on themes of literature and book culture.

Max, the blind guy (June 2015) grew from a recognition on a street in Prague.

Readers shall discover that my books track the nuances of experience. People interested in reading strong fiction will quickly detect a common purpose among its writers: we work to understand the internal and external characters of men and women in contemporary society.

My first novel, THE VILLAGE WIT (2010), and the next, WHAT BEAUTY (2012), explore the nexus between art and life, relationships and betrayal, work and diversion. Whether you think a little or a lot about these pairs, they play through portions of our lives on a scale that surpasses the, otherwise, banal moments we might often ascribe to “life”.

I once lived in middle-America. Now I reside in Europe. It’s a pleasant continent.

My motto is . . . “read, live, write”

Please read on to learn what kinds of pages and posts BiblioGrind delivers (and what it doesn’t), and what its purpose is for readers and writers and book-culture enthusiasts. Sometimes there are political essays, and other times essays focused on the visual arts. Allow yourself to scroll down the sidebar and frolic through the various blogs, or jump to a recent post whose title catches your eye, and don’t forget to look through the Books & Bylines pages, where I have lots of archived material, novel excerpts, and visual art images.

If you wish to follow this blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed (upper left-hand corner, that blue button thingy we all recognize). I write often, even consistently, but not on a set schedule, and so getting updates through your reader tracker will help to not waste your valuable time. Enjoy the site and its many mini-blogs…

Here are some comments that critics, and readers like yourself, are saying about my newest novel, WHAT BEAUTY

“I want to read this book. I must read this book.” — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

“Minus Orth’s eccentricities … make him the iconoclast he is intended to be.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Orth’s ambition to succeed in the art world is a Herculean fight in our secular age, and he does battle with adversaries as dangerous in their way as anything Odysseus faced: critics, rivals, and a mentor he’s not sure he can trust. Packed with wit, emotion, and memorable characters, What Beauty is a rewarding read for people who are up to the challenge.”

— Steve Farrell, author of Nothingness

purchase “What Beauty” here

Writing and photography, music and art — each has an aim. No artist should be so thoroughly focused as to fall into a tunnel vision that leaves out the possibility of influences from what I like to call the all-at-onceness of life. What the creative eye sees in the everyday can be used, if the mind will let it. As I write daily — prose, poetry, essays, and (always, it appears at present) a novel-in-progress — I inevitably find that in the world outside my window there are events, actions, gestures, and overheard conversation that somehow fit with what I’m writing just then. Naturally, I used to distrust such influences, having thought that I was merely looking for anything to help me along. Later, I discovered that I was not alone in how a writer (or any artist) gets involved with their story and sees their world insinuating itself — in a good way — on the story. Eudora Welty spoke of this in her Paris Review interview in 1972:

“Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply—what you overhear on a city bus is exactly what your character would say on the page you’re writing. Wherever you go, you meet part of your story.”

Now, many years later, I can see all life’s bits and pieces as found nuggets, like a squirrel digging beneath snow at mid-winter thaw, and I use them for either inspiration, or for purpose. To enhance an image, fill out a scene, describe the empathic reactions between two lovers, or how a mother unwraps a lollipop for a screaming child on a crowded bus.

Writing has been my passion for more than twenty-five years. I made sure that writing was how I made a living, eventually. All the other stuff have made potent grist for the millstone. Equally so, writing — storytelling — remains my yoke. And this is where my aimlessness is so important: to be ready when that word, the active image, the gesture, a death by any other name, creates story and drives inspiration.

I have had the great privilege of being allowed at key moments in my life to speak my thoughts to a public forum. Along the way people have also been kind enough to let me into their lives for a short time so I could get their story. On you’ll find a selection of my archival journalism, new and in-print fiction, wordplay games, and blogs — lots of blogs: on writing, living, book culture, and loving; working, playing, and sleeping through the rough patches.

“The Letters of Mark Beyer” collects my thoughts on The Writing Life, the Publishing World, and lots of how-tos and tips and advice about the writing craft, including ways to create and sustain character, scene, place, and story in the novel. No, I don’t write short stories. And, yes, I write literary fiction, otherwise known as “the strong stuff” that says as much as need be said in a given book about life, love, sex, betrayal, friendship, and work. It’s urban realism, and we all (or mostly all) live in something far less likely to happen than in my books. That includes myself. Which is why I read 40+ books each year.

“A Commonplace Book” is a collection of not-so-random words of wisdom — short-short excerpts of writing that entice, intrigue, madden, amuse, inspire, and turn on. I’ve found these little gems in novels, poetry, essays, and even other blogs. I chose each so that I could remember them; I remember them because have them now.

“Food for Thought” has singly posted photographs to encourage a writer’s inspiration for what their characters eat, how that food looks and tastes and feels. As I say in the first post, “Olives w/Martini” … “Characters must eat in stories, just as humans eat in life. What your characters eat (and drink) can say a lot about them. Sometimes, everything a reader needs to know.”

“Ways of Seeing” is my short essay blog. I have things to say about art, literature, music, culture, the web, news, and sports, to name a few. When I say “short essay” I mean column length. You’ll be surprised to learn how much thought can be packed into 750 words!

“The Prague Blog” and “Pamplona Blog” follow me as I live in Europe; as I teach, travel, play, drink wine, read, and write about whatever else irks me.

Also, take a reading-walk through the excerpt pages of my first novel, The Village Wit, and What Beauty. Thanks to Lia Gallegos @Sleepygirl for her cover designs.

Likewise, for a tour of Europe’s best parks, visit my travel website — European-City-Parks — now fully hosted at bibGRIND at the sidebar link or just CLICK HERE. ECP is an ongoing project that takes me around Europe again and again looking for great parks to photograph, roam through, or just sit with a good book. If my writing interests you, please tell others; if you find my work can suit your editorial needs, please contact me: mark [at sign] bibliogrind [dot] com to negotiate article commissions or commentary syndication.

And so: let me tell you a story . . .

1 Comment »

  bonalibro wrote @ March 20th, 2012 at 3:13 am

No comments yet.

Do I ever know that feeling. Occasional traffic. Little feedback. That’s the way it goes.

Saw you on NYRB. Liked what you had to say. Thought I would click through. See what you are up to.

Like your choice of books and the way you blog them. Short blurb and pithy quote.

Adding disqus comment system might help attract more comments. It also keeps a record of comments you write elsewhere on disqus. is great for attracting readers.

Pay me visit. Keep in touch.

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