BIBLIOGRINDAdventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture
From an Author’s Life . . .
I enjoy books that take me into the lives of characters whom I might have wanted to be, or never in my dreams want to walk in their shoes. These are the kinds of stories I write, as well. 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. Good ones.
Readers shall discover that my stories track the nuances of experience. People interested in reading strong fiction will quickly notice a common purpose among its writers: we work to understand the character of men and women in contemporary society.
My first novel, THE VILLAGE WIT (2010), and the follow-up, 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
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 BiblioGrind.com 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” follows life in one of the world’s more beautiful capitals, as I teach, travel, play, drink wine, read, and write about whatever else irks me.
Likewise, for a tour of Europe’s best parks, visit my travel website, www.european-city-parks.com, 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 . . .