The Uncensored Diary of a Bookseller — diaryofabookseller

The Curse of John Banville

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Bookselling is full of characters. You don’t have to be an eccentric to be a bookseller, but it helps.”- Gordon Graham, Editor of Logos They say you should never meet your heroes. I met John Banville in a pub in Grand Canaria in 2005. His bare legs dangled red and swollen from a bar stool while he sipped a pina colada from a novelty straw, with a little penis on the end. He was oblivious to his fellow patrons. The pub opened out onto a street filled with scantily clad young women and topless men, who Banville seemed to watch...

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Unconventional Customers #132

Posted by Wally O Neill on

As you glance around the unkempt interior, amid hazardously stacked towers of paperbacks, creeping advancing shelves and cobwebbed crevices, you may not automatically think of love, but a bookshop, even one like Red Books, can be a place of pure romance. And that’s not a reference to the discoloured leaning tower of Maeve Binchys. No, this is a place where out dated concepts like hope and empathy and romance still live. It is also a place where intrigue runs riot. This place can bring people together but it can also divide them. A bookseller must give everything to the cause....

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Burning Booksellers at the Stake

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Non dolet ipse Dolet, sed pia turba dolet.”“Dolet himself does not suffer, but the pious crowd grieves”.- Étienne Dolet as he was led through a mob to his death In 1546, French scholar, printer and sometime bookseller Étienne Dolet was arrested for printing 'blasphemous' books which approved of the doctrine of predestination. The French parliament ordered the burning of Dolet's book containing 'damnable, pernicious and heretical doctrines'. A great fire was made in Place Maubert in the city of Paris. Dolet was hung on gallows and thrown into the fire with his books. Both were burnt to ashes. On a...

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Guerilla Bookselling

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Know when to fight and when not to fight. Avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak. Know how to deceive the enemy: appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”- Sun Tzu (The Art of War)Ho Chi O’ Leary has developed a system of bookselling uniquely designed to combat lockdowns, inflation, wars and Amazon. A distinctive series of hit-and-run's, under-pricing in vast quantities and Tet offensive-marketing. Ho Chi O’ Leary is the architect of guerilla bookselling. Covered in camouflage of pulp paperbacks, antiquarian ephemera and oak biscuit crumbs, he networks his way across...

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Crowley’s Literary bombs and the Riverdance conspiracy

Posted by Wally O Neill on

“Did you ever hear about Aleister Crowley’s attempts to produce a literary bomb?” Rosencrantz lays across my counter, feigning relaxation, waiting for me to answer. Beside him, his ever present dogsbody Guildenstern is frothing at the mouth, hoping against hope that he’ll be allowed to deliver the punchline for once. “Its rumoured that he created a letter that would eradicate the brain of the reader during an act of black ritual magick,” Rosencrantz goes on. “The British government paid him to do it and send the letter to Hitler in early 1940. Unfortunately it was intercepted by Hess and the...

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