Booklist Readers: Keir Graff

keirIf it seems strange to profile Keir Graff, the editor emeritus of the Booklist Reader,  consider that we’re using this feature to profile all Booklist staff, whether hired this year or back before the turn of the century. (Keir hasn’t been here that long—but almost.) We find many of them in new roles, as we do with Keir—last spring, he was promoted from editor of Booklist Online Editor to executive editor of Booklist Publications. Here he tackles a few questions he may not have answered already. Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

What do you do when you’re not at Booklist?

Somehow, despite working at a book review journal, with new books flooding in, I remain determined to add to the problem by writing and editing books of my own. My second middle-grade novel, The Matchstick Castle, is coming in January, which will be followed later in the year by a book of crime fiction I co-edited with James Grady, Montana Noir. I am also a runner (I ran the Chicago Half Marathon last Sunday) and a big fan of soccer—I especially love coaching and watching the teams of my two sons.

What are you an expert on?

I’m reluctant to claim expertise, but I do have some odd interests I’ve nurtured over the years until becoming reasonably well informed on the subject: world soccer, vintage bartending guides, cue sports, polar exploration, and cooking. I used to know a lot about contemporary film and music but then I had kids.

A map of Prydain

A map of Prydain

What’s the first book that made an impression on you?

I have vivid memories of picture books such as Where the Wild Things Are and The Snowy Day, but the books that really connected with me as a middle-school reader were those in Lloyd Alexander’s pentalogy, The Chronicles of Prydain. He borrowed a few things from Tolkien (in particular a Gollum named Gurgi who is furry, not slimy, and a lot less interesting because he’s good through-and-through), but I hadn’t read Tolkien then, and I still don’t care now. This year I was able to share them with my 10-year-old, who loves them, too.

Which forgotten author do you want people to remember?

I’ve already made a pitch for Alexander, so let me add Russell Hoban. He’s not forgotten yet, but I’m already alarmed by how many people don’t know about him. In the Frances the Badger series, he wrote pitch-perfect picture-book prose, but he also wrote wonderful stuff for adults, including the seminal Riddley Walker and an entertainingly bawdy handful of novels later in life. I love authors like Hoban and Roald Dahl who were able to express themselves so well to both younger and older audiences.



About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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