The Old Corner Bookstore

The matter is not that this place is now a Chipotle. The Old Corner Bookstore, as much as ‘Ye Olde Sweete Shoppe,’ was debauched generations ago and made to serve whatever interest was literally afoot at that moment in time. The iconic site, a beautiful...

About the weather

A recent calculation of the ‘big picture’ in cosmic theory has the universe pulsing in an endless series of entropic expansions and contractions. When things reach a certain maximum (minimum?) of composition and the black holes go ‘pop,’ and...

What lies beneath

The quiet you’ve heard from this place was just the sound of me lying low. For about a year and a half I have been writing ‘The knight’s tale, a novel of the future.’ And now it’s done. Though not quite the largest single work I’ve...

Journey Man

Sitting in the cab of a small car, alone for many hours and over many days while traveling cross-country, will produce a lot of rethinking of old problems and the discovery of more than a few new ones. In that enclosed space, I have come to the not so subtle...

What we reap.

The word is not good. On a recent journey, it was simple enough to find a bookshop in a major city. A few perhaps. A Barnes &  Noble. An independent bookshop. Larger cities might even have two or more. Especially if there is a university close. Perhaps, if the...

Concerning Modern Slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This...

Tales from the Athenaeum

We can assay the weight and substance of a given work and argue its merits, but essentially the value of the thing is in its power to move us and hold us and remain in our minds long after the event of our first reading. For example, Tarzan of the Apes is a silly work...

The Powell’s Posts

I was recently asked to contribute to the Powell’s Books website as a guest blogger for the week of Monday, October 19 through Friday the 23rd. I was quite pleased to do it. The idea of a new audience of potential readers at this moment when my first novel is...

Musing about mysteries.

I have been reading mystery and crime fiction since I was twelve and first discovered Mr. Holmes. The contest of good and evil was a fine caution for a teenage mind bent on breaking the rules. I did study the genre briefly in the 1970’s for the purpose of...

The Anti-heroic Phallacy

Modern fiction is, by authority, a literature of anti-heroic impulse, anti-heroes, and the failure of mankind. Most primarily the dramatic action of the modern novel is dependent on a Freudian fallacy which pretends that human behavior is guided by sexuality, and as a...

deus ex machina?

So a friend of mine was telling me about a bit of behaviorist evolutionary theory and I found it very appealing. I have generally found most behaviorism as unscientific as any religion–drawing conclusions from insignificant or incomplete data and thence...

Wyeth in passing

When Andrew Wyeth died I found myself reviewing many past thoughts and realizing a few new ones. He was by far the preeminent painter of my time, one of the first living painters I became aware of as a youth. I cannot remember the exact text, but his work was the...

Morphology

Two of the greatest American authors among us today are Tom Wolfe and John McPhee, both of whom are often pigeonholed as part of the New Journalism school that arose in the 1960’s, but are in fact just plain good writers alive by chance at the same time, and...

Fungible!

I do not remember who taught me the word, ‘fungible.’ I am as sure that I did not discover it in a book as I am of any memory, but I cannot recall the person who opened that window in my mind. I have a vague recollection of repeating the word aloud and...

On the death of the book

A short but excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Johnson does the service of touching on a few of the key elements in the ongoing murder of the book. They would be called clues were the crime not committed in plain sight and to the indifference of...

Post hoc ergo propter hoc…again.

When, about ten years ago, I made the decision to begin writing seriously again, the first project I undertook was a juvenile–a story I had imagined many years before and given up on. I think the decision was tied to an example of foolishness which is worth...

of smaller homes and gardens

I have designed at least a thousand homes in my life. None of them built. Designing a home to suit a specific need has become my way of relaxing. It’s a quick and purposeful refuge from those realities I need to escape. Watching a baseball game is good, but not...

Theme

The theme of the Hound is the death of the book. It seemed an obvious concept to me at the beginning: to use the lives of individuals faced with this cataclysm as a means of revealing its true magnitude. I made several false starts before realizing a problem. The...

The voice of hubris.

As I have noted elsewhere here, my mother’s parents were illiterate. They were the type of mountain people who knew one book only and that by ear, line by line repeated, and knew those stories as they played out in their own lives. Their deep knowledge was hard...

How to Build the Perfect Bookshop

The Christian Science Monitor asked me to write a short piece on bookselling back in 2002. The context at the time was the continuing struggle of our small business to survive the tides and vicissitudes of our age. There were and are hundreds of articles easily...