2004-09-04 / Front Page

Jay Hoar, writing strange and thrilling truth

Caroline King
TEMPLE -- For Jay Hoar, the comic book motto from 1942, "Truth is stranger and a thousand times more thrilling than fiction," is behind his writing and publishing seven non-fiction works on topics ranging from his own family history in the early days of motion pictures to the youngest the Civil War veterans.Hoar, a professor Emeritus at UMF, has recently published his seventh book titled, "As Maine As It Gets. The Portable Professor Hoar: An Omnibus of his Adventures in Creative Nonfiction. 1968-2004.""As Maine As It Gets" gives readers an in-depth look at the small-town motion pictures, which Hoar described as his "second playground." His father, J. Sherman 'Sherm' Hoar, owned theatres from Rangeley's Pavilion and Lakeside to the Strand in Kingfield. The book chronicles the region's notable characters and familiar places though interviews and Hoar's generous stories.Hoar's book is a collage of his non-fiction work from the last 30 years. It includes biographical essays that profile 11 Mainers, who served during the Civil War, and represent the youngest, oldest and last living Civil War veterans.The third section of the book titled "From the Groves of Academe," Hoar describes as "what you'd expect an English professor to be writing on." It gives readers a chance to explore Hoar's love of American literature, his poetic preferences and his knowledge of Maine vernacular.Hoar began working for his father at age 5, when he would tip up the movie seats for 5 cents a week, but he saved that money. And at 19, he attended University of Maine at Orono and later went to Middlebury College in Vermont to earn a master's degree in English.Hoar spent most of his career at UMF, teaching English and literature, until his retirement in 1999.His other published works include: Small Town Motion Pictures (1969), New England's Last Civil War Veterans (1976), The South's Last Boys in Gray (1986), Callow Brave and True: A Gospel of Civil War Youth (1999), Our Eldest & Last Civil War Nurses (2001), and Old Dick of Lower Dallas (2003)."I have tried to write on topics no one else has touched," Hoar said. In the introduction, he states, "Finally, this book -- its conception, writing, materials, production, binding, self-merchandizing -- are largely home-crafted, and this in itself is ... as Maine as it gets."As Maine As It Gets, is available from the author, as well as at area stores including, Roger Page Shop, Ecopelagicon Nature Store, Mr. Paperback and Devaney, Doak & Garret.

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