Stuart Brent

stuart brent

The bookseller, Stuart Brent, had a profound influence on me in the 1950s. I watched his television show “Books and Brent” religiously on Sunday mornings. My parents didn’t have much of a library, so his show opened the doors of literature to me.
The format was simple. Mr. Brent simply talked about books and authors. Simply, though is not a good way to describe his expository skills. His presentations were elaborate, comprehensive and highly textured. He used words that I never heard before. I sat in front of the TV with a notepad writing them down. He used the word “apropos” frequently. I of course incorporated this word into my daily usage, earning strange stares from family members, teachers and classmates.
Sometimes I would accompany my mother downtown when she visited her doctor’s office on North Michigan Avenue. On the ground floor of the doctor’s building was Stuart Brent’s book store. While she was being examined, I perused the shelves and took in the sights and sounds of customers looking at and talking about books. Every now and then, I saw Mr. Brent, a short, animated man scurrying around the store, often with books in his hands.
Later on in life, I learned that Stuart Brent was Chicago’s celebrity bookseller. Anybody who was someone would stop by. Somebody once told me that Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller were seen there talking to the owner and buying a few books. But for me, Stuart Brent will most importantly be the person who ignited my lifetime passion of literature. And for that I am forever grateful to him.