The Invention of Man: a novel
In love, but broke, the sixty-eight-year-old bookseller, Michael McGeraughty, has converted a fifty-year-old camper-trailer to a small bookshop of about 1500 volumes, to be pulled by his thirty-year-old pick-up truck. His idea is to be a modern-day ‘book peddler’ in an American tradition going back to Parson Weems and once reimagined by Christopher Morley in Parnassus on Wheels. Meanwhile, he is still pursued by the FBI who believe he is connected to a libertarian revolutionary group (which he is), with designs on overthrowing the authoritarian government (true enough) through violence (which he is not). His aim is simply to wander the back roads of the nation, looking for ‘First Principles,’ and the characters that might make them work, while espousing good books and selling enough of those to pay for food and gas. His wish is that his true love, Deirdre Roberts, newspaper reporter extraordinaire, would accompany him on his odyssey. Instead, his only company is a middle-aged history professor, out of work, and most recently living with his mother.
The Invention of Man: a novel
An annotated browser
In ancient times, using a pen name, I wrote a series of short-short stories for use as one-page advertisements, under the heading ‘An annotated browser,’ to promote the shop. These are a few examples.
It is an established fact in the used book trade that a healthy shop cat will lose one and a half times its body weight in fur every 28 days. On bright winter mornings, with the sun reaching through the front windows to steal the reds and greens from the dust jackets of books displayed there, the cat hair floats, illuminated, on invisible currents. read more…
Biedermeier: his identity, both mistaken and true is now available in paperback and Kindle from the great and powerful Amazon.
From the back cover:
Otto Biedermeier, the Hollywood icon and B-movie legend, was murdered by his wife, Mysterious Circumstances. Tom Lenz, a film historian and the director’s biographer, wants to update his 20-year-old monograph as well as to pay his respects.
After meeting again with Ms. Circumstances, a former circus performer whose specialty of magic tricks on the high wire had made her briefly famous before capturing the heart of the filmmaker, Tom Lenz has his doubts.
Once, I had asked,“Why? Does it matter? No one seems to care. People apparently want to be lied to. That’s what politics is. That’s why they go to the movies, isn’t it?”
Otto was firm in his answer. “Truth matters. You have to look for it. What our children know is our only legacy. That’s why I make my movies.”
I don’t know many libertarians. There aren’t a lot to know out here in the boondocks. Mostly it’s the same mix of people I knew in Boston, just fewer of them. And even the few libertarians I am aware of locally are not given to too much conversation. They are well used to the common responses when confronted with matters of government and individual responsibility.
“But you can’t leave a decision like that up to the average person. They might do anything!”
The fact that the government they rely on is made up of average people, both good and bad, who are by nature self-interested, are easily corrupted by power and greed, and faced with an emergency, usually make the wrong decision, never seems to dissuade many from this preference, no matter the trail of tears and wreckage left behind. read more…
About William McGuire and other unexpected stories
The original plan, as plans often do, went awry. Two of the stories I had hoped to include with the print edition of the novella, I Am William McGuire, did not work out as hoped. Most of the shorter material I write is intended as backgound or continuity for novels–stories within the story–and one of those novels, A Young Man From Mars, is one of the oldest of the unpublished works precisely because the internal stories that make it whole are not yet satisfactory to me. I have made the point elsewhere that I believe the novel is best when it reflects the whole of a human life, and that plot should be a natural outgrowth of a life and the way it is lived, or of several lives, and not superimposed. Each of us is a creature of a plot of our own making. What we are born with and the accidents that befall us are only the raw material. How we choose to deal with or avoid those motivations is our story.
The two novellas, I Am William McGuire and If Blood Were Orange, were written originally as screenplays, but as time passed and I began to accept the fact that I would never be able to see them finished that way, I completed them instead as they are now. She Knows Her Onions was a story I took out of The Dark Heart of Night to keep the book a more reasonable length. That Little Old Lady and Me was intended as a part of John Finn but in the end I thought unnecessary to that effort, though still fun, in and of itself. Seely’s Surfside is a key moment from a novel that will never be completed for other more complicated reasons.
In any case, these stories, long on my website, are now available in print through the Great and Mighty Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/William-McGuire-other-unexpected-stories/dp/0989790363/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=I+Am+William+McGuire&qid=1600286701&s=books&sr=1-1
About Resolution 451
“This ‘Resolution 451’ business.”
“Not a business. Just a revolution. Like a New Year’s revolution.”
“You mean resolution.”
“Well, yes, but it’s a revolting matter to have to deal with after all the ages..”
“How so? What’s the matter?”
“It’s about time for the peasants to revolt. That’s all. Past time, I think.”
“To save books from perdition. They’re being destroyed, removed, replaced, expurgated, and abridged. Libraries are busy giving up the wealth of their collections for space to install machines that will be out of date in ten our twelve years—machines that operate soft-ware that will be useless in five or six. The arbiters of political correctness are getting rid of anything that does not meet their approval, altering texts they don’t like. Special interest groups are removing books they disagree with. And the publicly funded colleges all assign the same texts. Publishers are refusing to publish books that do not fit with their political templates. Our literature is being lost to morons who read twitter feeds.”
“Wooh! Except for the twittering, that’s always been going on. It’s the way it always was.” read more…
An article of confederation
Years ago, in the midst of my bookshop battles and as some psychological relief, I began writing a comedy which was then entitled ‘Knox Books’ as both a homage to the great Boston bookseller of revolutionary days as well as a ‘play’ on the homophone ‘knocks.’ Such humor can be entertaining to a stressed brain. I staged that concoction as a sit-com of sorts—imagine a ‘Cheers’ for books, if you will, with a cast of odd-ball regulars confronting crises du jour. The crises were, of course, all the concerns of bibliophiles humbled with the usual human defects. Despite a lack of interest in that work beyond my own confines, I’m sure it would have been a hit. . . At least it kept me sane. read more…
A Time for Books
I have finally done something I had promised to do here years ago. But it is posted at the Bookshop site under ‘annotations.’
In the last days of the Republic
I first knowingly encountered the Administrative State in 1972 when I went to City Hall in Boston to get a peddler’s license so that I might sell books and magazines on the street. I was under the delusion (illusion is too kind) that the First Amendment to the Constitution afforded me the right to sell almost any printed matter except pornography, and this being 1972, even that indecency would be overlooked. But the first week out on the street with my yellow pushcart (wittily named De Cart) got me a warning from the constabulary (i.e., the cops) who were charged with enforcement of the laws of the Administrative State, and I was told to get a proper license or I’d get a fifty-dollar fine. read more…