Robert Byrne (author)
May 22, 1930 |
|Education||Bachelor of Science|
|Alma mater||University of Colorado|
|Period||1969 - Current|
|Genres||Thriller, Collections of quotations, Billiards instruction|
Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood, 1970
BBIA Industry Service Award, 1994
|Spouse(s)||Cynthia Nelms (1991-present)|
Early life and education
He left Dubuque to attend Iowa State University, where his first sign of talent as a writer emerged as he edited a humor column in the school's newspaper. He transferred to University of Colorado, where he edited Flatiron, the school's humor publication, and he graduated in 1954 with a degree in civil engineering.
In 1955, a year later, he found a way to combine his engineering and writing talents by joining Western Construction magazine as a reporter for the heavy construction industry. In 1961, he was named editor of the magazine, a position he held for over ten years.
Byrne became a full-time writer in 1977 after the publication of his third book. He is the author of seven novels, five collections of humorous quotations, seven books on billiards, two anthologies, and an expose of frauds in the literary world. One of his novels, Thrill, was made into NBC’s Monday Night Movie, which aired for the first time on May 20, 1996. Four of his novels were selections of Reader's Digest Condensed Books and published in over a dozen languages.
Byrne's unusual mix of talents as a writer, engineer and billiard player formed the right skill set to create what would become one of the definitive instructional works on cue sports. Byrne’s Standard Book of Pool and Billiards, published in 1978 and expanded in 1998, has sold over 500,000 copies. It is one of the very few such works that includes diagrams that are mathematically and physically accurate, plotting the path of the center of the balls, which never quite reach the cushions of the table.[clarification needed] Byrne coined the pool jargon term "squirt" in this book, defining the deflection effect that sends the cue ball toward the right when struck with left sidespin, and vice versa.
Byrne's books, hundreds of instructional magazine articles, seven instructional videos (shot on sound stages in Burbank and Hollywood, California), have established him as the preeminent teacher and commentator in the world of pool and billiards. He has been a columnist and Contributing Editor for Billiard Digest magazine since its first issue in 1978, and a columnist for Dubuque's Telegraph Herald since 2000. His most recent publication is Behold My Shorts, a collection of a decade of his monthly newspaper columns.
In 1994 on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, he received the Industry Service Award from the Billiard and Bowling Institute of America, an honor previously bestowed on Willie Mosconi, Paul Newman, and Jackie Gleason. In 1998, the readers of Billiards Digest named Byrne "Best Billiards Writer". His contributions to billiards and pool were recognized with induction into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame. The honor, perhaps the greatest in the field, was bestowed for Meritorious Service, on July 21, 2001, at the Las Vegas Hilton at a banquet closing the annual International Billiard & Home Recreation Expo. He was inducted with many-time World Three-cushion Billiards Champion Raymond Ceulemans of Belgium.
As of May, 2011, he is nearly finished with a new collection of humorous quotations.
Byrne's first success as a pool hustler came at the age of 12 when he beat the gas meter reader out of 85 cents on the family home's basement pool table in a game of 8-ball.
As a player, he has ranked in U.S. national-class tournaments in multiple disciplines:
- Champion, National Senior Billiard Tournament, 1999
- Champion, National Amateur Athletic Club Billiards Tournament, 1999
- Third place, National Professional Three-Cushion Championship, 1977
- Fourth place, National Professional Three-Cushion Championship, 1968
On May 12, 1958, Byrne married Josefa Heifetz, concert pianist and daughter of legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz. On May 16, 1962, Josefa gave birth to Russell Heifetz Byrne, their only child, who now works as a network consulting engineer for Cisco Systems. Byrne and Heifetz were divorced in 1976. On May 9, 1991, Byrne married Cynthia Nelms, a graphic artist and painter, who struck his fancy by sending him an extremely well-written fan letter.
After living in California for nearly 40 years, Byrne moved back to his childhood home of Dubuque, Iowa with Cindy in 1996, which was not without complications due to the controversial nature of his semi-autobiographical novel Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood.[clarification needed] Byrne's civic involvement in Dubuque includes serving as president of the Friends of Wahlert Library, Loras College, and as a boardmember of both the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and Dubuque Museum of Art.
Byrne is also an amateur stage magician, is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and has published tricks in Genie magazine. He was once a Class A tournament chess player, with a United States Chess Federation rating over 1800.
Pool and billiards books
- McGoorty, The Story of a Billiard Bum, 1972, Lyle Stuart (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8184-0056-8); republished 1984, as McGoorty, A Billiard Hustler's Life, Citadel Press, (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8065-0925-9); republished again 2004, as McGoorty, A Pool Room Hustler, Broadway Books (paperback, ISBN 978-0-7679-1631-8)
- Byrne's Standard Book of Pool and Billiards, 1978, Harcourt Brace & Jovanovich (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-15-614972-3), 1987 (paperback, ISBN 978-0-15-614972-3)
- Byrne's Treasury of Trick Shots in Pool and Billiards, 1982, Harcourt Brace/Harvest (paperback, ISBN 978-0-15-614973-0); 1983, Mariner (paperback, ISBN 978-0-15-115224-7); 1984, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-15-115224-7)
- Byrne's Advanced Technique in Pool and Billiards, 1990, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-15-614971-6), Harcourt Brace (paperback, ISBN 978-0-15-614971-6)
- Byrne's Book of Great Pool Stories, 1995, Harcourt Brace (ISBN 978-0-15-600223-3)
- Byrne's Wonderful World of Pool and Billiards, 1996, Harcourt Brace (ISBN 978-0-15-600222-6)
- Byrne's New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards, 1998, Harcourt Brace (ISBN 978-0-15-600554-8)
- Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know, 2003, Harcourt/Harvest Books (ISBN 978-0-15-602721-2)
- Byrne's Standard Video of Pool, Volume I, 1987, Premiere Home Video
- Byrne's Standard Video of Pool, Volume II, 1988, Premiere Home Video
- Byrne's Standard Video of Trick Shots, Volume III, 1993, Premiere Home Video
- Byrne's Standard Video of More Trick Shots, Volume IV, 1993, Premiere Home Video
- Byrne's Power Pool Workout, Volume V, 1996, Premiere Home Video
- Byrne's Rack 'Em Up!, 1996, Premiere Home Video
- Byrne's Gamebreakers, 2002, Accu-Stats Video Productions
Billiard tournament commentary videos
- The Best of Three Cushion Billiards, Volume I, 1995, Accu-Stats Video Productions
- The Best of Three Cushion Billiards, Volume II, 1997, Accu-Stats Video Productions
- Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood, 1970, Lyle Stuart (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8184-0112-1); 1972, New American Library (paperback, ISBN 978-0-8184-0112-1) Staged as a musical by Dubuque's Grand Opera House in 2005.
- Once a Catholic, 1981m New American Library (paperback, ISBN 978-0-523-41165-1)
- The Tunnel, 1977, Harcourt Brace & Jovanovich (ISBN 978-0-15-191385-5). Selected for inclusion in a volume of Reader's Digest Condensed Books in 1977
- The Dam, 1981, Atheneum (ISBN 978-0-425-05385-0). Part of Reader's Digest Condensed Books #136, 1981, vol. 3
- Always a Catholic, 1981, Pinnacle (ISBN 978-0-523-42035-6)
- Skyscraper, 1984, Atheneum (ISBN 978-0-451-13557-5). Part of Reader's Digest Condensed Books #154, 1984, vol. 3
- Mannequin, 1988, Atheneum (ISBN 978-0-7089-2308-5). Included under the title Death Train in Reader's Digest Condensed Books #180, 1988, vol. 5
- Thrill, 1995, Carrol & Graf (ISBN 978-0-7867-0199-5)
Collections of quotations
- The 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1983, Fawcett (ISBN 978-0-449-20375-0)
- The Other 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1985, Fawcett (ISBN 978-0-449-20762-8)
- The Third and Possibly the Best, 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1998, Ballantine Books (ISBN 978-0-449-21337-7)
- The 1911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1988, Fawcett/Columbine (ISBN 978-0-449-90285-1). Collection of the first three volumes.
- The Fourth and by Far the Most Recent 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1981, Fawcett (ISBN 978-0-449-21975-1)
- The Fifth and Far Finer than the First Four 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1994, Crest (ISBN 978-0-449-22312-3)
- The 2548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1996, Budget Book Service (ISBN 978-0-88365-960-1); 2001, Galahad (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-88365-960-1); 2002, Fireside (paperback, ISBN 978-0-7432-3579-2); 2006, Simon & Schuster (hardcover, ISBN 978-1-4165-4035-9). Collection of the first four volumes.
- Writing Rackets, 1969, Lyle Stuart (ISBN 978-0-8184-0095-7)
- Cat Scan: All the Best from the Literature of Cats, 1983, Scribner (ISBN 978-0-689-11390-1)
- Every Day is Father's Day, 1990, Crest (ISBN 978-0-449-21822-8)
- Behold My Shorts, 2009, Telegraph Herald (ISBN 978-0-9819806-2-1)
- Heifetz-Byrne, Josefa. Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, Gathered from Many and Diverse Authoritative Sources, 1974, University Press (ISBN 978-0-586-20600-3)
- Kruse, Len. My Old Dubuque: Collected Writings on Dubuque Area History, 2000, Loras College Center for Dubuque History (ISBN 978-0-936875-07-1)
- The Byrne Family History, self-published, Linda Byrne Brown, 2001
- Byrne's novel Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood is loosely based on his own childhood
- As described by Byrne in an interview with Shelly Till on the local public-access television program On the Edge with Shelly Till
- "Happy Birthday, Bob: A Thank-You to Robert Byrne for His Contributions to Billiard Literature". Billiards Digest 22 (7) (Chicago, IL, US: Luby Publishing). June 2000. ISSN 0164-761X.
- Shamos, Mike (May 2010). "The Byrne Legacy: A Review of Robert Byrne's Gifts to Billiards on His 80th Year". Billiards Digest 32 (6) (Chicago, IL, US: Luby Publishing). ISSN 0164-761X.
- "Byrne, Robert". Encyclopedia Dubuque.
- "Behold My Shorts Debuts". Telegraph Herald.
- Byrne, Robert (April 11, 2011). "A Personal Question: How Would You Describe Yourself?". Telegraph Herald.
- Zentz, Renny (May 8, 1994). "Byrne takes not-so-novel approach to billiard success". Telegraph Herald.
- "Milestones, May 12, 1958". Time (magazine). May 12, 1958.
- "Online interview published April, 2010". Untold Stories: Billiards History.
- Garchik, Leah (February 6, 1983). "Creating a Bowl of Perfect Cherries". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Zentz, Renny (May 8, 1994). "Byrne takes not-so-novel approach to billiard success". Telegraph Herald.
- Zimmerman, Joy (October 7, 1988). "A Master Quipster". Pacific Sun.
- Jowers, Andrew (April 28, 1993). "Author Byrne: Engineering, humor and billiards". Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
- Rasmussen, Eric (January 1996). "Writing the Great American (Civil Engineering) Novel". American Society of Civil Engineers News.
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