A new novel about Michael McGeraughty, proprietor of A Republic of Books, and how he lit out for the territories to see if his country was actually worth saving, or if the soul had left the body and the rot taken hold.
The prolegomenon to a journey
but there are more things dreamt of
Once, I told an editor at Houghton Mifflin, at that time still a great publishing house but no longer a home for such wild ideas as once flowed freely in the days of Emerson and Thoreau, that the novel must reform itself, or be dead. The novel must reshape itself and become what it once promised to be when Homer lived and lived again at the campfires of war and the hearth of the home. Because he was a gentleman, civilized in the way most editors can be, he was kind enough to ignore my ranting and suggested the novel was indeed in flux but would never be the same again. But I was a child of such thoughts, and insisted on my belief, saying that the novel must be the fountainhead of man’s very being, else we are only what nature made us, food for the darker gods and a diet for worms.
As I remember, it was a mercifully short conversation.
Given to such opinion, I had further extrapolated that history itself was a child of the novel, as Homer was a father to Herodotus. I believe this is just about where the discourse ended. The firm was a great publisher of history, and my conjecture was likely an affront to their pretensions. Yet, now older if not wiser, I will repeat my thought. And worse.
The Republic is dead. Two hundred and thirty-four years after Ben Franklin issued his warning on the occasion of its beginning, we couldn’t keep it.
The Republic is dead. To pretend otherwise after the government usurpations of authority in recent years would be delusional, which I certainly have been. I wanted to believe otherwise. But this state of affairs has been true at least since shortly after September 11, 2001, and the panicked passage of an unconstitutional Patriot Act and increased during the erstwhile war on terror, which has since been so terribly lost.
True, much of the public is unaware, “I didn’t even know it was sick,” they might say, preoccupied as they always are with earning a living and cleaning the gutters—but this is usually the case, until it isn’t. Remember, the farmers of New Jersey, prosperous and happy as they were, could not care less about the revolution in 1776 until the British troops in their New York winter quarters, began to forage for the necessary food for their horses and the forces of the American rebellion began working to deprive them of that necessary treat.
Before a dark age of technologically enhanced authoritarian rule descends—an age that I believe will not soon end—this brief time of passage must be taken as a last opportunity to recover our lost liberty. But what can the minority who are aware of their loss do? Certainly, any attempt at forcing the issue through violent revolution would only deepen the tragedy and coalesce support of the majority around the status quo. What then, can be done?
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…
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
“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…
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…
I have finally done something I had promised to do here years ago. But it is posted at the Bookshop site under ‘annotations.’
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…
In related matters, my new novel, The knight’s tale, a story of the future, is now available in paperback from the mighty Amazon as well as in at least one fine bookshop. This novel was written a few years ago but only available until now in parts on my website. It has been part of an effort since beginning to write again to touch on several themes I believe to be important while playing with the many genres of fiction that I love and have read since I was a boy. With The knight’s tale my interests were the ongoing predilection of human beings for slavery as much as our amazing sense of regeneration, set in a future time when the worst has already happened but the best might be possible once again. The question is a simple one, if history repeats itself because we so often ignore it, might not the future come more than once? The adventure science fiction story was a staple of my youth and I hope I have done it some justice.
How is it that such a great composer as Asger Hamerik can be so forgotten? Can the mediocrity of our age actually be so overwhelming as to ignore even that rare genius who survived the smothering of the ‘modern’ to produce seven wonderful symphonies and an inspirational requiem, several operas and suites, and most of it while teaching right here in America? Perhaps I should be grateful that Rachmaninov and Mahler are still with us. Certainly he is not alone in being ignored while so much mediocrity was raised to set examples for the Broadway/Hollywood nexus of manufactured schmaltz and Götterdämmerung during the last century. Symphony orchestras play with their warhorses again and over again, as if to benumb audiences rather that present another recent example of why the Twentieth Century was such a hell-hole for human creativity as much as it was for the human beings themselves. In the same way that Shakespeare survives endless mutilation on the stage, Beethoven, and too few others can survive such rote, while Joachim Raff, Wilhelm Stenhammar, Johan Svendsen and others of such great imagination have seemingly been buried. Hamerik is my favorite of those I have found on my own. The murder of what has been labeled ‘classical’ music in the twentieth century has now been long successful. The audience has dwindled to so few that without state sponsorship, there would apparently be no full orchestras left, and this excuse is often given for the constant beating of the kettle drums, but that is only after the fact. The aesthetic suicide that was so facilely called ‘the modern’ was first imposed by the academy of the damned that is our educational elite. Yet another accomplishment they can be proud of.
Other than that, I don’t have an opinion on the matter.