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Bernard Black (Dylan Moran)is the proprietor of Black Books, a bookshop just off Russle Square, in the hit comedy series. He is perhaps best described as the personification of a Monday Morning Hangover. He has long, un-combed, and as a result, un-combable, brownish hair, a permanent cigarette hanging out of his mouth and a dangerous amount of blood in his alcohol stream.

Bernard is, contrary to popular belief, not a complete bastard. He simply not comfortable in the real world. He at some point retreated into books, preferring a world which can’t hurt him to the one that not only can but frequently does. He loves books so much that he opened a bookshop with the worrying name of “Black Books.” He doesn’t like customers buying his beloved books, so tries to scare them off, then complains when he has no money. Sometimes people do buy his books, but Manny, his accountant, assistant, servant and confidant, will deal with that.

Manny and Fran are the only people in the world who he doesn’t hate. In fact he does hate them, but can’t get rid of them. At some point something happened between him and Fran, she remembers, he’s not allowed. Bernard employed Manny after Manny accidentally ingested the little book of calm. Manny is fairly conductive to Bernard since he can provide him with wine and inform him when he is eating coasters, thinking they are biscuits (“well it’s very good, are there any more”).

Bernard is basically out of place in life and is just compensating for it by being horrible.

Bernard Black, owner of the bookshop known as Black Books, enjoys drinking heavily and shouting at people, especially his sole employee, Manny Bianco. Bernard is a gloomy Irish misanthrope who avoids the world outside of his shop as much as possible. He drinks, smokes, and reads to excess. His only friend is Fran Katzenjammer, who owns the high-end tchotchke shop next door and enjoys wine and cigarettes nearly as much as Bernard himself. The pair commiserate over their hatred of others, torment Manny, and try to one-up each other in a twisted form of sibling rivalry.

In an attempt to write a children's book, Bernard instead produced a one thousand and thirty page novel in one night about an academic who survived the Stalinist purges and is now having flashbacks to that time; his daughter, whose long and bitter marriage is collapsing around her; and a journalist who investigates the academic but falls wildly in love with the daughter, eventually giving up his career to become a lensgrinder in Omsk.

There was a stage in life when Bernard was my hero, coincidentally a time when I also drank and smoked too much. I identified with his rumpled clothes and cynical outlook, hoping someday to be at least as well-read and funny as he was, while ignoring the high likelihood of cirrhosis that would come from such a lifestyle. I still am fond of the old bastard. He taught me to cut the crap and focus on what is important—namely, books.

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