The Miller’s tale

The two original Mad Max films had a certain intelligence behind them, extrapolating an apocalyptic future from the present. And at minimal cost. They were, like the original Star Wars films, game changers. Post-nuclear holocaust could never be the same. The third in the series Beyond Thunderdome, was a mixed bag of misspent money and confused scripting that was little more than an apocalyptic exploitation film and parody of itself. Perhaps that should have been warning enough. But the fourth film in this franchise, Fury Road, the beautifully staged and very expensive reimagining taken from those earlier films by the same writer-director, George Miller, alters the field once again, by taking itself seriously and yet, ironically, suffers all the ills of our present world—technologically sophisticated filmmaking that is morally incoherent. And therein lies a tale that reflects the deepest weakness of modern society, our dependence on technology without moral purpose. read more…

Joe Bailey, and the reason for the dog

[Yet another portion of A Republic of Books, more of which can be found elsewhere on this ethereal site.]


    Honest cops are a lot like honest reporters. There aren’t many of them around, and they both work for naturally corrupt organizations with political agendas that otherwise fill necessary ends in a society that wants more than its willing to give in return. The question comes up, why do they do it? Comes up a lot. Like every morning when I’m drinking my coffee.

    But this morning was a little different. This morning I got a call from Peter Ignatz and he tells me that they have killed George Jones.

    George was one of the good ones. He was in for over twenty years, had stalled out as Lieutenant because he wouldn’t take the bribes, and should have been good for another ten, at least. Before that he had been a Marine. He could take care of himself. So they shot him in the back.

    My paper is not going to assign me to the story. My editor knows George was a friend of mine. So it’s on me to do what I will. Peter understands that I understand all that.

    The wisdom that can be found in a cup of coffee can be measured by the ounce. I use a pretty large mug, myself. Still, I couldn’t handle all the thoughts. read more…

Yes and No

There are two kinds of people, those who think there are two kinds of people and those who do not, but of course, the latter group are wrong. The very taxonomy of human being, that state of existence so bullied, bloodied, disparaged, idolized, hated, loved, condoned, copied, studied, spied, watched, ignored, rejected, classified, identified, distinguished, too often extinguished, and so totally misunderstood, is incomprehensible unless you use this simple tool. There are two of you and no more.

Some may disparage this realization as the petty enlightenment of a sophist. But sophistic or not, it is true and truth bears a great weight of its own. Many people, too many people it appears, are unable to make a simple choice between good and bad. They choose to make no choice at all which is a choice in itself. read more…

What’s all this, then?

A preamble to A Republic of Books, portions of which may be found elsewhere on this ethereal site.


            There is a wonderful quote from a fabulous movie of long ago, often repeated but seldom fully appreciated: “Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”

Perhaps it’s strange to you that I apply a quote from a movie to the death of the book, which is the greater subject here. Then perhaps you should look more closely at that movie. It was not technology that killed the book—nor the internet, or digital reproduction, or any of those contrivances that you’ve heard complaints about. They were only means. Mere tools. ’Twas beauty. The perfect nature of the book itself, that physical vade mecum of bound pages, whether pulp or rag or vellum, sewn or stapled or glued, covered in leather or cloth or not covered at all, that was the reason and cause for its destruction. Such an empiric beast could not be allowed to survive in a fungible world. No matter the subject—novel, or history, or tract—the book was an existential threat. With writers having sacrificed verity in favor of favor and acceptance, such a corporal art, and the ready evidence it revealed of their deceit, could not be allowed to co-exist. With the very climate itself having been made political, the ‘author’ had become just another tool as well and the need for the book, that hairy sublime that we had known, was made doubtful. With the advent of the internet and the ascendency of nescience and the commutable labyrinth of the web, the virtual had become ‘real’ and the book was at last defunct. The Great Bezos had spoken.

Certainly the tag, ‘book’ will be carried on. And ‘pages.’ And ‘word.’ Orwell predicted all that too, as meanings are altered to suit the need of authority. But now we have arrived at that last moment. The great misbegotten beast that was the book lay dead on the street in New York. And all the things that the book once was, nasty and false and true and kind, are dead as well, along with that industry of editors and publishers, critics and agents, and not least, the mortal authors themselves who once believed in their own veracity and perspicacity. All gone. Deceased. As dead as the once wild beast that made them possible. A computer can now write as well as the graduate of a university writer’s workshop. Garbage in, garbage out. Compassion made to order. Empathy on demand. There’s a formula for that, don’t you know. Just keep it Strunk and White.

Art has now evolved beyond postmodern, to postmortem.

And the movie industry is departed as well—not coincidently, using the same recipe. A King Kong cannot be imagined today, (I reference the 1933 masterpiece, not the modern abortions) only copied—and badly at that. Computer graphics can now simulate almost anything but real life—but then, that was once the subject of actual authors, not authoritarians.

I read years ago that the actor Steve McQueen, a favorite of my youth, refused a movie role because he would not cry on demand. I respected him the more.

It is in that spirit of not crying on demand that I write this book.

You are here, at a rest stop. The arrow marks the spot on the highway map.

‘All hope abandon, ye who enter.’

Dante said as much.

But I would like to say a little more.



The problem is . . .

The problem is that the two major political forces of our age, socialism and capitalism, are rotten to the core. Ostensibly, socialism is the ‘public’ ownership of property and capitalism is the private ownership of property. In practice, neither is true. Capitalism, functionally the private accumulation of wealth for private means and purposes, becomes a tool of government objectives and a beneficiary of government favoritism as it attempts to make the greatest profit through the cheapest measures. Socialism, given that a true democracy will not function if there is an objection by the majority, assumes total power ‘for the people’ in the hands of the fewest politicians, and inevitably becomes a dictatorship not of the proletariat but of the meanest bully.

It may be argued that there are other political forces at large. Religion, for instance. Currently the strong horse in that field is Islam, largely advantaged by the fact that it is both a religion and a philosophy of government. Both socialism and capitalism see this development as an aberration. It will pass, as it has before. But historically, it does persist. The problem with Islam is that it is an automatic dictatorship and thus has an automatic enemy within—anyone in the population who does not agree. The great advantage of Western society is that it has found an alternative in allowing disagreement to fuel change. This will inevitably make Westerns societies stronger even as they might suffer the wounds of revolution. read more…

Otto Biedermeier is dead.

My guess is that most of you did not even know he was sick.

Sadly, the great filmmaker, Otto Biedermeier has died, and it is perhaps parody that killed him.

And it is for that reason alone that his death is the subject of the sudden novel I have just completed. You see, I was happily in the midst of another story when the news reached me. There seemed to be nothing else to do but put other matters aside and pursue the truth of it. He would have done the same for me.

The year 2016 was a tough one. Still, it was better than I deserved. Howbeit, Otto didn’t make it through. I thought the reason might be important to some. read more…

Latest Blog Posts

An open letter to those who might be wondering.

The move from Abington, Massachusetts to Lee, New Hampshire has been better than feared, but perhaps ultimately worse for the simple demonstration of fact that I haven’t the energy, muscle mass, or psychological stamina I once had. There has been an attrition,...

Trifles taken from the alms-basket of words

[a bagatelle from A Republic of Books, a 'novel in progress' to be found elsewhere on this site] By the bye, the category I have chosen for my work is ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus,’ as it is found in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, if for no other reason than it...

Consider Cleisthenes

(Oh yes, oh yes. Another potable portion from a chapter of A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.) And while we are at it, consider Cleisthenes, the father of Athenian democracy and thus a father to us all, dead and white though...

All slaves are equal but some get to live in the big house.

(Oh yes, another new and potable portion from a chapter, this one  posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.) A novel is a flimsy currach indeed in which to set out on a journey such as this. The urgency to remain...

Unto an age of Romanticism, or On the Beach

(Perchance, another potable portion from a chapter of A Republic of Books, the 'novel in progress' to be found elsewhere on this site.)   When I arrived at 5th Street she answered the door with a deeply caught breath, as if she’s been furiously cleaning things up...

Beyond the age of reason, wherein love is lost and found

(A potable portion from a chapter of A Republic of Books, the 'novel in progress' to be found elsewhere on this site.) Has our Thirty Years’ War only just begun, or has it ended long since and the news simply not yet arrived via a slow internet connection? I have...

In an age of enlightenment, the illuminated manuscripts burn brightest

(A potable portion from a chapter of A Republic of Books, the 'novel in progress' to be found elsewhere on this site.) I believe that enlightenment tends to come upon societies in much the same manner as it occurs to an individual. One day you are repeating your...

In ancient mundane

(A new chapter two has been added (interpolated?) to my 'book in progress,' The Republic of Books, to be found elsewhere on this site. In ancient mundane, the beer was swell, the work was sweaty, and the women very very pretty. Here be a potable portion of that, you...

Mistakes have been made

(Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one newly posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.) This then was the economic pressure that weighed on my conscience as I debated what should be done to maintain my...

For Wednesday’s child, perambulation is nearly as healthy as walking

(Yet another potable portion from a chapter, this one recently posted with A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this site.) It was this sense of things then which had taken me to the hardware store to buy a bucket of light green paint....

That I have nothing to say

 This is the matter. The reason I do not call an old friend, perhaps, or care to watch a popular movie, or read a particular book. Each of these things requires a dialogue, and I have nothing to say. You may judge me for being dull as a consequence. Or rude. Likely...

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.


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



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.