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That’s great! Against banality in it’s prime

I should be ashamed of myself, but I will probably use the word carelessly again this very day. But still, I am ashamed of myself for it. There is not an easier word to use for both what is in fact the best and what is simply terrific, or momentarily special, or even unexpectedly good. And this unfortunate lexi-con comes to mind again whenever I have been called to account for the best in literature.

What is ‘Great Literature,’ which is to say, ‘What makes literature great?’ Such written stuff is often alluded to, without excuse, or explanation. Austen, Homer, Bronte, Hemingway, Eliot, Frost, Cather, Joyce, Melville, Byron, Shelly, et al. But the question ought to be asked, if for no other reason than to define the premises and allow you to recognize other works for what they are. That is unless you like being told what to read—in which case there is no point going further here. read more…

Looking for the sur-prize

Sunday morning: dawn.

An article in the UK Guardian concerning the tawdry descent of the Nobel Prize ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/17/the-ugly-scandal-that-cancelled-the-nobel-prize-in-literature ) only makes me think of the corresponding degeneration of American letters. Certainly the Pulitzer is no longer a prize of more than promotional worth—but given the proliferation of subcategories to meet every demand, and the corresponding lack of sales, even that lesser god has failed. The American Book Award has long been a vehicle of political assuagement rather than artistic merit and an economically impotent statement of virtue signaling at that, having little to do with America or American readers beyond the shadow of the academic pale. And the decline of British literary awards, a riot of special interests, is on par now with a Simon Cowell talent show—no longer a presentation of Brit talent but a smorgasbord of international fire-eaters, dog acts, and precocious children. It has been many generations since the French chose to enter into this sort of contest, and thus their literature is read these days only in paperback while sipping bad coffee and sitting on wire chairs, watching the congestion of traffic and breathing the fumes for flavor. And sadly, the Germans have not regained their soul since Thomas Mann stopped climbing mountains. I would love to know what the Polish and Russians are up to since the fall of the Soviets, but they apparently can’t find English translators, unless of course they hate Americans and/or all Western values after spending some time at an American University. read more…

Stories

A friend was recently reading the revised version of John Finn that appears to be making its way into print sooner than later and suggested that a particular chapter might stand on its own. It happens to be one of those I posted first about eight years ago when John Finn was newly minted apart from its origins in the Henry Sullivan Hound novels. Long absent from view, I was happy to oblige. read more…

Rejoice! (if not, read Joyce)

I am told by my betters that I am too negative. Not for the first time, of course. So I have looked again at this ongoing collapse of Western Civilization that surrounds me in the rubble of all that I hold dear—other than family and friends—in the hope of finding some morsel of good cheer, happiness, and prospect for good times ahead.

Lo, I have found it this day with the arrival of another volume I had just ordered through the all-knowing internet (in this instance AbeBooks.com, a subsidiary of the mighty Amazon) for my current project—I am re-writing A Young Man from Mars, and I’d already sold some of my original research materials from that project several years ago). This is a copy of Alexis De Tocqueville’s translated and edited journals, written on his Journey to America during his quest to understand the still new Democracy in America, which was his greater effort. Lovely stuff. read more…

In our lost time

 

[A portion of the novel A Young Man From Mars, currently being re-written and somewhat available elsewhere in this ethereal site]

Recalling any given lecture I am impressed by the fact that Professor Tripp himself was not nearly as kind as his classroom manner allowed. The record of his first talk concerning the Collapse is a good example:

Looking back at the first part of the Twenty-first Century, it is difficult to feel pity. With three thousand years of human history, of ‘blood sweat and tears,’ and more, of creation and joy, tossed away, and the history of countless billions of human lives destroyed, carelessly. All pity must be reserved for those they desecrated. Certainly some compassion must be felt for the children. They alone might deserve that. But for their parents, and the rest, there can only be disgust. And as those children who survived reached maturity and took possession of their own lives, those who followed the same bloody rites as their parents, in retrospect, lost any claim of innocence. Worse. They made of their very births a sacrilege. An especial disdain must be held for those who saw the horror about them, knew it for what it was, and out of cowardice did not rise up against it. Thankfully, revulsion leaves no stomach for hate, else we might consume ourselves in the very heat of hell the people of that time made for themselves. Though mercy, even of thought, is impossible given the ruthless brutality they showed toward the rest of mankind. read more…

The bright side is pretty dim

Trying to see the bright side of the current cultural malaise is difficult in the glare of modernity. Over one hundred years on, that is since the infamous Armory Show, the squandering of Western culture has reached its nadir with a wallowing in wantonness and a rejection of good and bad, along with all such standards and values.

Other than that, what’s not to like? The pervasive music is loud, and the beat distracting, the visuals titillating, and feelings are all the rage—the showers are just ahead, so keep moving please. (The holocaust reference is not made gratuitously.)

So sorry! I shouldn’t be repeating myself. I wrote something like that in the early 1970’s, didn’t I? Where have I been? How can we have reached a nadir in 1974 and still be there? read more…

Latest Blog Posts

That’s great! Against banality in it’s prime

I should be ashamed of myself, but I will probably use the word carelessly again this very day. But still, I am ashamed of myself for it. There is not an easier word to use for both what is in fact the best and what is simply terrific, or momentarily special, or even...

Looking for the sur-prize

Sunday morning: dawn. An article in the UK Guardian concerning the tawdry descent of the Nobel Prize ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/17/the-ugly-scandal-that-cancelled-the-nobel-prize-in-literature ) only makes me think of the corresponding degeneration of...

Stories

A friend was recently reading the revised version of John Finn that appears to be making its way into print sooner than later and suggested that a particular chapter might stand on its own. It happens to be one of those I posted first about eight years ago when John...

Rejoice! (if not, read Joyce)

I am told by my betters that I am too negative. Not for the first time, of course. So I have looked again at this ongoing collapse of Western Civilization that surrounds me in the rubble of all that I hold dear—other than family and friends—in the hope of finding some...

In our lost time

  [A portion of the novel A Young Man From Mars, currently being re-written and somewhat available elsewhere in this ethereal site] Recalling any given lecture I am impressed by the fact that Professor Tripp himself was not nearly as kind as his classroom manner...

The bright side is pretty dim

Trying to see the bright side of the current cultural malaise is difficult in the glare of modernity. Over one hundred years on, that is since the infamous Armory Show, the squandering of Western culture has reached its nadir with a wallowing in wantonness and a...

In Grand Delusia

In the land of Grand Delusia, I roam again. It is true enough that an author of fiction must persuade a reader to come along for the ride, but first the author must cajole himself. It is not a simple thing. The Lesser Existentials crowd at every side. There are shores...

A Young Man From Mars: the future retold

  “Those who cannot remember the future are condemned to repeat it. The past can never be repaired or reclaimed. The future may be reimagined at any moment, possessed at any time, and thus easily known.”   Joe Trees   This is the journal of Griffon Macdonald, his...

A Republic of Books, et tu?

The original story idea for A Republic of Books was conceived shortly after I was forced to close my own bookshop, Avenue Victor Hugo Books, on Newbury Street in Boston after 29 years. The tale was imagined as a means of relieving some of the pain while grasping the...

Act 4: Scene 2 ; the problem with fire

[A revised morsel from A Republic of Books, the novel in progress to be found elsewhere on this ethereal site.]     Act 4: Scene 2 the problem with fire     The bookshop is closed. The lights are low. Deirdre and Michael are sitting down stage, center right, on two...

Winkling out the meat of a nut

when the fool is unable to sleep (Late thoughts from A Republic of Books, the novel in progress, more of which may be scavenged elsewhere on this ethereal site.)   Philosophers have turned away from purpose and became obsessed with means, as with math—a mere tool that...

Love in black and white

In mid-winter, Valentine’s day means Oscar will soon be coming out of the closet to look in the mirror. If he sees himself, it will be a good year at the multiplex. But sometimes you have to look through the thorns on the odorless long-stemmed roses to find anything....

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.

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