Set in a logging town on the lawless Pacific coast of Washington State at the turn of the twentieth century, The Bully of Order tells the story of the Ellstrom family and the violent social and historical forces that tear them apart. This novel of darkness, redemption, and western civilization goes on sale today, but before you dive in, author Brian Hart has stopped by to share his love of libraries.
The Once and Future Librarian
My best friend’s mom was and still is my hometown librarian and everyday after school we would walk the old railroad tracks to the library so he could bum some money from her, maybe steal a few smokes from her purse, then we’d go skate. I woke up often on their couch. I ate their food and lifted clean t-shirts from the dryer, pinched untended cigarettes, maybe a stray beer from the cooler on the porch. Books were stacked up on every flat surface of their house and lined the walls in the mudroom and spilled into hallway and the bathroom. The TV might’ve only picked up a few channels (if you could tweak the antenna on the roof just right) but there was always something to read.
It was too far from town to walk and if me and my friend didn’t get up in time to catch a ride, as was usually the case, we’d be left out there all day to fend for ourselves. We’d read and light things on fire, swim in the canals, climb trees and try and jump to other trees, plummet to the ground, limp home and read some more.
In their backyard they had an old Airstream where in the evenings me and my friend would be sent to do our homework. I might’ve hacked out one of my first short stories in there, stubbing my fingers on the keys of a Brother word processor.
In 2010 I was in my hometown using one of the public library computers when I finalized the sale of my first novel. My friend’s mom was there working; she was the first person I told and the first person that I hugged. Some people have priests and rabbis, others have bartenders and weed dealers, therapists and psychiatrists—I have a librarian and she’s been there from the beginning.