Blog

Mr. Popper’s Paradox

is killing ourselves to death

[A mote from the novel in progress, A Republic of Books, more of which may be found elsewhere on this ethereal site.]

‘I remember ye olde bookshoppe.’ This will undoubtedly be the subject of countless internet articles in the coming years as the last of us disappear—no, not the internet that we know today. By Moore’s Law, that will be thrice gone, but the names for the bookish parts will still be used, just the way they now abuse so many book terms to identify the ephemeral elements of digital word processing. But what will be recalled in that waxing of nostalgia, will in fact have never been. Just another joke in the dustbin of history. read more…

What Sven Forkbeard means to me

and the consequences of lying

[ being the latest driblet from the novel in progress, A Republic of Books]

Writing is, fundamentally, a conversation with yourself. That’s it, in the nutshell. (The nut shell of your own head, of course.) Remember to listen to yourself and answer your own questions when you can. Don’t just talk. Be polite. Try to finish the conversation as you would want to with anyone else. Beyond that it’s a dressing up, or down—to gussy or hone. If you can’t talk to yourself, you can’t talk to anybody, so forget about the whole thing. If what you’ve done with your words embarrasses you, revise. Never tell the truth if the lie is better. (A lie is less likely to embarrass you or anyone else.) But tell the truth if you must. And if, after an appropriate period of absence, your words confuse you, revise or recant. If your tone seems strident, soften that. If it feels too serious, make a joke of it. If you can’t laugh at your own joke, remove it and replace the blunder. If the whole thing bores you, toss it in the round file with your other failed efforts—but keep a copy. You may be in a better mood at a later time. And always keep in mind (the afore mentioned nutshell) nothing written is ever lost. read more…

At the postmodern multi-perplex

More screens but still nothing worth knowing

(from the novel in progress A Republic of Books, more of which can be found elsewhere on this ethereal site)

Reel life may be directed to a sharp technical edge in the age of CGI, but what real life we are allowed by the authorities who know better, or allotted by chance, may be pretty dull by comparison. Weren’t we told that art is life? And by some, that life is art? But I ask, if it was created by a computer, is it art? Exactly what art is that?

Now, must I be careful of what I say and how I say it? In my own bookshop? Will ideas be proscribed, and not just words? Reducing language to political memes is a regression akin to doing away with the thousand year old content of our dictionaries and grammars and returning to the pictograph. Of course, the schools began this process with sight reading in the 1920’s in order to enhance their sundry rote, all of which was designed from the beginning for the convenience of the teacher and the administration of the schools which are now mass indoctrination centers, rather than for the actual enlightenment of the student. And the process is fairly complete after barely a hundred years. The loose ends and deckled edges are easily trimmed in the digital age. read more…

to a little cave in Abington

 

where the grapes of wrath are stored

[Another visit to the novel in progress. A Republic of Books

My play about Benjamin Lay begins with a monologue, as he picks the grapes at the arbor just outside his door—well, not exactly. It is a dialogue, but between Benjamin and his wife, Sarah, who has been dead now for nearly sixteen years. The silent answers are clear only in his responses. The face of his home in the cave beneath a low bluff is visible to stage right. There is a short, extended, wood shingled roof from the upper ledge and this is clearly mossy; above and behind is the rise of a bluff, sylvan with small trees and broken in part by sunlight and wild flowers. The rough hewn wall behind is boarded with vertical planking trimmed at top and bottom and gray with weather, and this is divided by a wide door, as well as several windows. Glazed pots are arranged beneath the eaves along with potted flowers.   read more…

The poison of dragons

[another mouthful of the novel in progress, A Republic of Books, more of which may be found elsewhere on this ethereal site]

My argument now is what it always was. Compromise is not a good. And its impossible for me to imagine what would have been if I had been willing to compromise with Margaret. My guess is, our marriage would have been shortened by many years and possibly our several children. Given the choice, I would not give them up, but the subject has often dawdled in my brain.

It is interesting to imagine—conjecture really—what would have happened if James Wilson had not fashioned his three-fifths compromise. There would have been no United States. More likely three nations, at least two of them above the Mason Dixon line, and all at odds with the vigor of youth. Such a novel of alternative history still needs to be written. read more…

The way madness lies, in truth

[Another slip of the novel in progress A Republic of Books]

What is madness, anyway?

As a young man I was most amazed, in a negative way, by what passes for the religion of ‘psychology’ as a purported science, and worse, some branch of medicine, or even just as field of study. Like everyone in my generation, as we had escaped from the shadow of a failed religious past, I was bombarded by Freudian and then Jungian balderdash as an excuse for bad behavior or human stupidity. But always it was proffered as an excuse. One did not seek psychological help for building a house, or starting a business, only for burning the house down or stealing from the pension fund. But as a medicine, the practice of psychology ruined more lives than can ever be accounted for, simply by allowing or even in some cases causing, the troubled and the sick to suffer as prisoners in institutions, or the criminal to go free. In sum, the field of ‘psychology’ has proved itself far worse than, say, bloodletting, which at least had an imaginative basis in ‘bad and good humours’ for cause and effect, or than the more savage lobotomy, with its assumption of a physical basis for the psychosomatic, and mutilation and impairment as a desired result. While most psychological advice is at the level of a Smith and Dale vaudeville routine: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this!” “Don’t do that!” too much of it pretends cures from false reasoning. read more…

Latest Blog Posts

Mr. Popper’s Paradox

is killing ourselves to death [A mote from the novel in progress, A Republic of Books, more of which may be found elsewhere on this ethereal site.] ‘I remember ye olde bookshoppe.’ This will undoubtedly be the subject of countless internet articles in the coming years...

What Sven Forkbeard means to me

and the consequences of lying [ being the latest driblet from the novel in progress, A Republic of Books] Writing is, fundamentally, a conversation with yourself. That’s it, in the nutshell. (The nut shell of your own head, of course.) Remember to listen to yourself...

At the postmodern multi-perplex

More screens but still nothing worth knowing (from the novel in progress A Republic of Books, more of which can be found elsewhere on this ethereal site) Reel life may be directed to a sharp technical edge in the age of CGI, but what real life we are allowed by the...

to a little cave in Abington

  where the grapes of wrath are stored [Another visit to the novel in progress. A Republic of Books My play about Benjamin Lay begins with a monologue, as he picks the grapes at the arbor just outside his door—well, not exactly. It is a dialogue, but between...

The poison of dragons

[another mouthful of the novel in progress, A Republic of Books, more of which may be found elsewhere on this ethereal site] My argument now is what it always was. Compromise is not a good. And its impossible for me to imagine what would have been if I had been...

The way madness lies, in truth

[Another slip of the novel in progress A Republic of Books] What is madness, anyway? As a young man I was most amazed, in a negative way, by what passes for the religion of ‘psychology’ as a purported science, and worse, some branch of medicine, or even just as field...

Chinese Coffee

Wherein I am reminded of myself [Another sip of A Republic of Books, the novel in progress, for your enjoyment] John Yu has been coming in the shop since he was a kid. He is still a kid, but bigger. He went to MIT. He’s at the University of Pennsylvania now, though...

Helen Grimaud saves the earth

  [ A few more notes from the novel in progress, A Republic of Books, that might entertain]   When you listen to Helene Grimaud play the Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto you understand the music itself a little better, I think. There are other, ‘bigger’...

Smelling guns and firing roses

[ Another tittle from the novel in progress, A Republic of Books, for your consideration ] ‘There are more booby traps in the original Constitution of the United States than in a congress of naked women—not intentional, to my reading, but the by-product of the...

Miss Wheatley

[A tasty new collop that speaks for itself, taken from the work in progress, A Republic of Books] However, my favorite scene in that book is the encounter between Henry Knox, Phillis Wheatley, and John Peters, her future husband. I liked it so much that I have already...

Thoreau Again

 [ Yet another morsel of John Finn to be eaten alone or with the greater meal] “The thunder had rumbled at my heels all the way, but the shower had passed off in another direction; though if it had not, I half believed that I should get above it. I at length reached...

Mr. Chekhov

[a tasty portion from another novel, John Finn, written a while back. It seems to work by itself.]   It seems to me that if a novel isn’t about a man and a woman then it ought to be about why it’s not about a man and a woman. I’ve come to this conclusion rather...

Novels & Novellas Available for Purchase

I Am William McGuire

I Am William McGuire

It’s a bloody Cro-Magnon world.
What’s a Neanderthal to do?

 

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

Leaving well enough alone is not good enough at all—not if the reason for a death is to be found in the life that was lost.
Hound

Hound

Henry Sullivan has made a simpler life for himself, finding and selling books. There is little room in it for either love or murder.

 

About

I have been informed by trusted authority that the short quip which I have placed here for the last year or so, by way of biography, lacks gravitas. “Over-paid by others for hyphenated jobs such as lawn-work, snow-shoveling, house-painting, office-boy, dish-washer, warehouse-grunt, table-waiter and hotel night-clerk–I’ve since chosen to be a writer, editor, publisher, and for most of my life, a bookseller, and even managed to occasionally pay myself. Hound is my first published novel.” And so it does. It is hard to be serious about so unserious a subject as oneself. But herewith, and keeping the ‘nasty bits’ (Brit expressions are so brilliant) to myself, I offer then, this ongoing post begun as posts at Small Beer Press. If anyone is interested, from time to time I will add something at the end to bring the epic closer to the present moment.

read more...