hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘books’

Scott C. Holstad’s TOP Subject Rankings in Open Library

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 19, 2022

Open Library is overseen and operated by the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/), the self-described “Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine.” It’s an online “Library” that loans many items out and makes others they claim have been donated to them for free distribution available to readers and users. Wikipedia states it claims to have over 20 Million records in its database, so it’s not a small operation. I have an author’s listing/profile there which was created by an Anonymous User on April 29, 2008 for reasons unknown and over 20 years before I ever heard of Open Library, let alone found I had a listing there.

My Open Library Listing: https://openlibrary.org/authors/OL2928969A/Scott_C._Holstad

Scott C. Holstad’s Open Library Author Listing

I honestly have some mixed feelings about the practice, this business model, because while they’re likely the most “credible” of such sites, like all of them they can be subject to abuse, usually unintentional, but during the pandemic, the Authors Guild (I am a 30-year professional member) lost it because it claimed the Internet Archive violated copyright laws, authors rights, basic promises they’d made to adhere to professional and ethical standards by the site’s decision to forgo the limitations they set for themselves, which is to “loan” only the literal number of copies they allegedly have for any given work – as a legitimate library does – but throwing that out the door and for the “good of the world,” I guess, making everything available to anyone with little to no limitations, which I disagree with as does the Authors Guild.

The Internet Archive has three of my books they’ve made available to all without my permission, with no thanks or acknowledgement, but there are serious Pirates out there making a killing illegally selling tons of my stuff all over the world and you have to pick your fights, so I’d rather go after thieves essentially stealing from me than a digital library that may take some liberties one doesn’t like but which isn’t anything like the Pirates.

For those interested, here is the Authors Guild stance on the Internet Archive, which they’re so ticked off about. It isn’t on their webpage of “Where We Stand” statements on issues like copyright, free speech, piracy, etc., but on their main homepage with its own special place. You can find it here: Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library is ILLEGAL. Here’s Why.


In any event, that’s not the topic of this post, but merely an introduction to Open Library if you don’t know it. You can find out more on their website or — as always — through Wikipedia. When I stumbled across my listing there a few years ago, they had probably about eight of my books listed. If you’ve seen my Goodreads or WorldCat profiles, you’ll know that’s a pretty small number compared to what I actually have. And since both of them — and every other catalog, index, etc., out there listing my books — are also way off, the only bibliography close to accurate is the one you’ll find here on my site. However, while some 30-40+ can be found here, as my Goodreads profile states no one really knows (including me) the actual total number of books I’ve edited or published over my career so estimates are higher. Thus eight on OL was a bit slim. It’s now up to about a dozen, and I’m really not very worried about it was I’ve been out of sight for awhile, I never was Stephen King-popular and I’ve got bigger things to concern myself with. That said, I sometimes take a peak at these various profiles just to see if there’s anything different so I went to my Open Library page a couple of months ago and realized — and I must admit a search engine query result for something else turned up a topic I never would have thought of which is why I pursued this — that apparently what I had listed in their database included tags or subjects for each of them and you actually can find lists of the top authors — in terms of quantity — for the most publications per any listed topic. Which I thought was kind of cool. Especially since this one search result informed me I was a top author for an OL topic that I’d never known about.

The common ranking is worded as the “Most Prolific Author” among authors who have written books that have whatever the subject is associated with that book. Obviously this doesn’t take into account authors who aren’t in the library or who are lacking all of their works (which would include me, Stephen King, etc.), who if subjects/tags were appropriate but don’t appear, it’s not recorded in the library’s database. Thus someone who may have only written six books on a subject with many books written by other authors may end up first because these authors may have written only a few or been credited with such. I know this is the case because I myself am listed high in areas where people more famous and successful than me should belong. So these rankings apply to Open Library ONLY. That being said, as of a couple of years ago, Open Library offered over 1.5 million books and has only grown since, so it’s still a nice statistic to have.

Well after I discovered this, I decided to waste a couple of hours trying to find if I was listed as a “Most Prolific Author” with other topics and if so, how many and which ones. And I came up with some surprising results which I am now going to share here despite any embarrassment I should feel but don’t.

Aside from any topics where I’m listed as first (accurate or not – recall this only relates to Open Library’s own database) with some topics, I weeded out official government historical census records, etc., because there may be hundreds for a topic while an actual “author” might truly be the top AUTHOR, which is the case for me with the subject of the city of Phoenix, as an example. So ready to find yourselves surprised? In no particular order…


  1. Long Beach CA. (Place)
  2. Psychological Horror. Genre (Subject)
  3. Los Angeles Poetry. (Place)
    • Scott C. Holstad is ranked #1 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of Los Angeles Poetry. Out of 179 books listed on this subject, I am attributed with seven (7) and several others are tied for 2nd with three each, including Suzanne Lummis and Charles Harper Webb, both of whom I know, particularly Webb.
  4. Phoenix. (Place)
    • Scott C. Holstad is ranked #1 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of Phoenix. Out of 316 books listed, the top three ranked are companies – seed and nursery companies – so I am the top ranked actual “Author” with five (5) books relating to Phoenix – with two people tied for #2 behind me with four books each.
  5. Dark Humor. (Subject)
  6. Confessional Poetry. Genre (Subject)
  7. Beat. Genre (Subject)
  8. Surreal. (Subject)
  9. Hate. (Subject)
  10. Social Activism. (Subject)
  11. Addiction. (Subject)
  12. Slasher Porn. Genre (Subject)
  13. Beat Poetry. Genre (Subject)
  14. Horror Poetry. Genre (Subject)
    • Scott C. Holstad is ranked #1 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of the Horror Poetry. (There are many, many authors all tied for 2nd place with only one listed book each while I am alone in 1st with four (4) listed books.)


I basically stopped with 14 Number Ones. Pretty diverse list, eh? A few odd topics? Some of the authors I’m in front of here — wacky! Of course we all know that if their entire catalogs were represented here, I wouldn’t even appear on most of those lists. There are actually a few additional topics where I am not currently ranked Number One, but I’m second or close so I’m listing a few here, but not all as that would simply be too many. I’m listing these due to personal interest and no other reason.


  1. Burbank. (Place)
  2. 1990s. (Time)
  3. Sanity (Subject)
    • Scott C. Holstad is ranked #2 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of the Sanity. I am behind the author ranked #1 by only one listed book. That author is Stephen King.
  4. Terror. (Subject)
    • Scott C. Holstad is tied ranked #2 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of the Terror. I am tied with six (6) other authors behind the two authors tied at #1: Stephen King and HP Lovecraft.
  5. Police Brutality. (Subject)
  6. Insanity. (Subject)
    • Scott C. Holstad is tied ranked #4 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of Insanity. Out of 1,019 books listed I am tied with several other authors at (four) 4 books, behind two authors with seven books each tying them for #1: William A White (American psychologist who died in 1937) and Richard von Kraft-Ebing (European psychologist who died in 1902).
  7. Violence. (Subject)
    • Scott C. Holstad is tied ranked #5 as the Most Prolific Author on the Subject of Violence. Out of 9,183 books listed, I am attributed with eight (8) and am tied at the #5 position, but not with an author, rather with an organization called Human Rights Watch. The #1 writer is Rene Girard with 15 titles. (I had to look this author up. He’s a dead [2015] and he was a historian and philosopher [What? But he’s FRENCH!] not a novelist or other form of creative writer.)
    • BTW, there are five authors listed ahead of me, but one of them tied for #4 with nine books is labeled “United States” and the titles seem to be historical documents produced by the U.S. government, so there are actually only four “authors” in front of me. Like #1 Rene Girard, Wilhelm Heitmeyer is not a creative writer, but a German social scientist of some sort, as his books deal with violence research, school shootings, etc. Additionally, the #3 author, Ted Robert Gurr, is also a researcher of some sort with titles like “Violence in America,” “Peace and Conflict,” etc. Finally the #2 author in the Violence category is a deceased researcher named Marvin E Wolfgang, who wrote many works on topics based in criminal homicide, criminal violence, criminal behavior, etc.
      • Thus, I guess the “good,” NO, “Awesome” news is that even though I’m ranked #5 in the subject of Violence, I’m actually the sickest bastard of all the writers as the four in front of me are all researchers while my books containing Violence as a subject or topic are all creative works, though many DO address the topic from a social critical, moral outrage perspective. That said, just as many are sick horror, “slasher porn” type pieces that border on infamous to some while a couple have been compared to American Psycho of all things. So I guess I could argue that in terms of creative writing, eliminating science or research for this particular topic, I’m a kind of #1 in Violence too, in a slightly sick, psychotic way. Whoa!!!

Finally, as I indicated, there actually are other subjects in which I am currently ranked #1 but I’m not going to focus on those or even really include them other then to note some I know exist. The reason these “don’t count” at this point is due to the fact that the only reason I have the top ranking is either I’m the only one with any books in that category or there may be one or two others, but we’re all tied with one each in a few cases. In other words, technically #1, but not really…

A list of some in no particular order. As above, oddly diverse.

  • Glendale CA
  • Knoxville TN
  • Bar Stories
  • Phoenix AZ
  • Coffeeshop
  • Tits
  • Knoxville TN USA
  • Long Beach CA USA
  • Bravado
  • Big Tits
  • Misogamy
  • Populist Poetry
  • Self-Loathing
  • The Beautiful People
  • Dystopian Futures
  • Crude
  • Bukowski
  • Moral Outrage
  • Social Dysfunction
  • Breakdown
  • Psychotropics
  • Regrets
  • Government Criticism
  • Koreatown-Los Angeles County CA
  • Fantasy Death
  • Crude Humor
  • Theater of Absurd
  • Disturbing
  • Raunchy
  • Social Outrage
  • American – Psychological Horror
  • Bleak
  • Long Beach Poetry

Just a last note. If any of you found this post interesting and are curious about the books or why I’m apparently such a freak, you can find more out on this site (and elsewhere like Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc.). For a brief list of many/most of my books, anthologies, etc., you can look here (all of these links I’ll put should be accessible by the tabs at the top of my homepage). The webpage also includes over a dozen Identifiers, which you’ll find on my Wikidata page with even more if interested.

For more details on my books but much more such as research (some found on Google Scholar and Academia.edu), citations, resources, references, readings, libraries, and more, my ever growing Scott C. Holstad: Selection Publications page is the place to go (while starting to border on overkill, admittedly).

If you’re curious what others have said about some of the books and other writings of mine, you can find reviews and excerpts of reviews of all sorts dating back to 1990 on my Scott Reviewed page.

And in case you don’t know my work or can’t find my books, well there are reasons. The foremost reason is for the most part, my books are out of print. Including ones that were successful and/or that have remained in demand for years. Nuts, huh? Some did go through several printings and one or two were republished, but essentially, they’ve largely disappeared. You can find a couple for sale online, usually used and it depends on where and when you look. Some you’ll never find, some you might but they’ve always been in demand and may be priced fairly high, certainly compared to their original retail list price. (And some are cheap.) In case you’re interested, I actually have gone some years, mainly because of some large moves, without ANY copies of my books or anything else! This has driven me nuts. But after much searching, earlier this year I found copies of many of them, as well as some hundreds of magazines that published me, although hundreds more remain missing. The point is, I found extra copies of, I think, 8 of my books, including 3 that have never been sold online and my 2 most popular, rare collector’s items. Additionally my 2 best selling books, and a few others. Some of these have been ripped off for years by various Pirates who’ve sold them illegally and it’s really ticked me off. Most are in digital formats, and none of these were ever in that format; all were hard copy. I recently saw a copy of one of my most “infamous” and valuable books — Shadows Before the Maiming — which I’ve found used on occasion for over $275 being sold by a Pirate side in PDF format for $125! Crazy! There are even sites out there that CHARGE people to write custom book reviews about THAT book (and some of my others), which is nuts! Who would pay for that? I’m not a damned household name. Well, anyway the point is I decided to make a few available for sale — the few others are going to special collections libraries. I tried to price them competitively with the market and actually marked them down as much as possible but a couple may still seem a tad pricey. But if anyone is interested in getting one, bear in mind that as opposed to the used, beat up print copies one may find at a bookstore or on eBay or any of the illegal digital versions, these are original “new” hard copy books in Mint condition, never used, read, handled or out of their respective boxes straight from the publishers (and with some, I only have a few copies). Not only are they legal and authentic, but I’ll autograph each and if asked, custom autograph it as well for free, for what that’s worth. And since I don’t have a store nor do I plan to, this isn’t an eCommerce site but I was able to put up a simple page that allows one to purchase any of the 8 listed via PayPal or a credit card, the caveat being I had to add on a $5 fee to cover shipping, fees, etc., since I have no means of doing so otherwise. You can find this on my newest webpage: MINT, Signed Books For Sale. There’s a Contact form at the bottom of that page if anyone has questions and I guess that’s it for now. I’ve been working hard on a total overhaul of this website for months now and I hope to do a different post sometime soon letting you know about some other things one can find here. For instance, I’ve put together a page of actual famous writers I’ve been published with over the years and at this point, the list is over 200 and while some won’t be known by many, others are actual household names and some aren’t even famous as authors necessarily, but they’re damned famous (some infamous too) and it’s been interesting to see them join the list with me and others. Enough for now. I hope this post was interesting. I was fun to discover all of this and to put this together. Til the next time…

Scott


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A Review of Marilyn Kallet’s How Our Bodies Learned

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 26, 2022

Marilyn Kallet: How Our Bodies Learned
Marilyn Kallet: How Our Bodies Learned

How Our Bodies Learned by Marilyn Kallet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Superb. Everything Marilyn Kallet produces is consistently at the very highest levels of quality and craft, something one can say about few others. Indeed, if there is one certain area where you can count on inconsistency, I’d wager it would be writing, and possibly even more so, poetry. In fact — and I draw on my own career to illustrate — many/most writers can be so predictably inconsistent in the quality of their work (accusations seemingly thrown at virtually every poet who ever wrote) that it’s not only inevitable for a poet to be known for one or two of their works/books (if good and lucky) while simultaneously having some to most of the rest of their work ignored, spurned, criticized, etc. One thing that is especially frustrating, and I include myself as a party in this, is that there’s little worse in the field that an uneven book! A collection comprised of some gems, surrounded by duds dying on the vine (sorry for the mixed metaphor). One of my own books has several sections and in retrospect, it nearly pains me to look at it at times because one of those sections stands out — to me at least — as particularly weak when compared to the others, something no reviewer was ever brutal (or honest) enough to write. Marilyn? Hell, not only can’t I think of a single person, publication, review, etc., that has ever said or inferred anything remotely indicative of these literary challenges about Marilyn or any of her work, but I myself can’t think of a single book of hers that doesn’t meet the highest of standards — and yes, I do hold her to a higher standard than most others because I think she’s THAT good, and she always exceeds those standards. Not only am I a poet, writer, author, scholar, but critic as well. Having written hundreds of book reviews and having written and published a number of critical essays in various journals (peer reviewed), I read friends and colleagues’ works with a critical eye as well as those I don’t know. I don’t do this for an ulterior motive or with a negative intention — it’s just part of the job, so to speak. I’ve been lucky enough to know Marilyn Kallet personally for close to 40 years now (egads!!!), so I admit to bias. I view her as a dear personal friend, a valued friend in letters, a person to look up to for many reasons, and I read her work and I have gone to as many readings of her as possible — something hard to do when you’ve spent most of your life hundreds of miles away. But here’s the deal, and I’m sure Marilyn would agree with, vouch for, or otherwise concur — she and I write quite differently, and often on different topics using different poetic techniques and devices, likely have very different audiences and to be candid, despite having spent far too much time obtaining far too much education and teaching at several academic institutions, on the whole I’ve never been a fan of “the Academy” and I’ve much preferred to hang out in the slums of the small press, the zines, the cross-genres, the vast international media, the crazies — hell, anything but the stereotypical Iowa Writers Workshop alums! I’ve written poems about this and actually one or two became pretty well known, anthologized, and I actually saw fan mail published by editors because of some highly critical poems about the perceived typical mainstream/academic poet. One that proved pretty popular was titled “to all you goddamn nature sissies.” That should give you an idea of how I often view “mainstream” poetry.

By most accounts, going by her CV, her bio, her career — Marilyn should fit within those biased, ugly parameters I just described. But she doesn’t — never has, never will. Because even though she and I write about different things in different ways to different audiences, Marilyn is so much more than just a damn label! She comes from and resides in a world of rules, of “successful” and “accepted” poets and writers because they meet certain criteria, but quite often whose work so very bores me to tears — along with millions of others who WANT to like poetry! — who can’t possibly speak to or for me and Marilyn has spent years in this world, but to me and many others, she’s a real person with a real life and real life view who can flow into and out of different scenarios, emotions, contexts, periods, schools, genres, places, etc., and feel comfortable in all, act comfortable in all, be welcomed in all — because she allows herself to shine out through her poems and can’t help but impact a person, typically in the most positive of ways. She gives of herself and welcomes you — the reader — to join her, to appreciate her craft — because she IS a master of craft (damn all what they say about Donald Hall!) — and at this point, I’m babbling, but I do want to make one point that represents a thought I’ve long held about Marilyn and her poetry. Poets will try to convey, elicit, induce a variety of emotions, responses, etc. I want this to sound right: I’ve long viewed Marilyn as being so engaged in her craft, so engaged in her subject, in her reader, so enthralled with the word, the cut of the line, the nuance, that it’s like Marilyn and these poems are lovers — not in some sicko, kinky way, but as in she and her poems share moments most of us hope to attain yet never do. She has a near-sensual relationship with her poems; the intimacy is incredibly powerful and I view that as a sign of a truly gifted poet and writer, and it’s something that seems so natural for her that it’s a bit awe inspiring because I can name 5-10 writers off the top of my head right now who’ve tried to get that close, move us that much, convey things, feelings, thoughts, desire, admirations, emotions, appreciation and despite spending their entire careers — their lives — making such efforts, if they ever did accomplish such a thing, perhaps it may have been in just one of their collections. Marilyn seems to almost effortlessly accomplish this in every book of hers I’ve ever read, and while my own work has often been described as very impacting, it’s for radically different reasons. I think I know how difficult it is or must be for any poet or writer to achieve what I just (poorly) attempted to describe, and therefore I know and I believe that Marilyn must work so very hard and yet you never get that idea when reading her words. It’s just so natural. So Marilyn Kallet. So damn good.

So do I recommend this book? Hell, if you must be fed info on that, you didn’t read the damn review! Get this book. Read this book. But remember, she’s got quite a few others out there and they’re all worth reading, so please consider and recall that you don’t have to be a poetry fan or lover to appreciate the words and poems inside these pages because I think they transcend the limitations we place on them via labels at a bare minimum. Most strongly recommended.

View all my reviews

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An Announcement Regarding Some Of My Books

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2022

This is one of what I expect will be several announcements of some cool or groovy or awesome or for some maybe a ho hum (hopefully not too many of the latter!) piece of news/info regarding my writing career, my authorship, the status of some of my old, out of print books, and some other things I’ve been busy as hell working on since last summer. I hope someone will appreciate some of the info I’ll be putting out.

If you look at most any of my profiles that have to do with writing, whether it be info on this site, or perhaps my Poets & Writers Directory listing or my Authors Guild profile or even my Goodreads Author profile among many you could find, you’d find a couple of things that might stand out. 1) This actually is no surprising, but it’s been disappointing. Virtually every books I’ve written that was published has been out of print for awhile, some far, far too long despite some going into three and four press runs. Because of this, what little supply various retailers or booksellers had slowly dwindled to nothing and since then some books have been relatively easy to find used but most have been very difficult and some literally totally impossible. All but one of my books were $10 or less (Cells was $20 or $25, but it was a huge book). So I’ve kept my eyes open for the past decade just looking occasionally at what was out there, what the list prices were, what was in demand, etc. Those of you who have visited this site may have noticed a tab for a page I have at the top of the homepage titled “My Books — Crazy Prices” and some of them WERE crazy! I think that was back in 2011 and you can look at some screenshots for yourself but one example was two new copies of Cells, being sold by third party vendors on Amazon for $100 and $170 respectively! Nuts. One place was offering to rent students a copy of The Napalmed Soul for $65 per semester. (I’m updating that webpage with new, current screenshots of what’s out there now.) I’ve moved a lot over the course of my life, close to 35 times. During all of those moves, I had to get rid of stuff, dump stuff, I lost stuff and some movers were nice enough to lose or trash a ton of my stuff, the last group from two years ago succeeding in losing over half of the magazines, newspapers, etc., that I was ever published in — I’m talking tons of boxes with hundreds or more of contributor copies. To top it off, they lost EVERY damn copy of all but one of my own books! And not only were they out of print, but some of the early, distant publishers were very small presses and were long gone themselves, and as I mentioned, over half of my books were/are literally impossible to find on the market anywhere, any time, so I’ve been screwed out of any copies of my own books with one exception. Which has really ticked me off. I wanted a copy or two of each for my own library, and frankly I wouldn’t have minded a few more to get back into the stores or on the marketplace somehow since several have remained in demand for so unbelievably long. And I’ve gone years without seeing any.

The point is I haven’t had ANY of my own books for many years and I’ve wanted some for god’s sake! So a couple of months ago when I couldn’t sleep one night I was puttering around in the basement and found a biggish box labeled Places, opened it up to discover quite a few copies of that book. Yay! However, for whatever reason, despite being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and some very good reviews and press, that book really hasn’t retained the value that some others have, so I was elated when a week later, I found a small white box behind some curtains against a basement wall that was labeled Shadows and I thought surely I’m not that lucky. But I was! Barely a fraction of the number of copies I’d found the week before, but still more than 20 and not only did a few major libraries’ Special Collections want a copy, but that book has been far more successful than I ever anticipated and is one of my most ripped off and pirated books (that is a different ticked off story) and its value has remained much higher than the original retail list price and at times has gone up to crazy figures. And I have screenshots, including ones of various pirate sites and IP thief sites, but I came across one a couple of weeks ago illegally selling a PDF copy for $100! For a $7 book! All of these criminals have been selling my stuff for years, but more and more the past few years, and I’ve not gotten a dime for it. In fact, I discovered last year they’re even selling my published scholarship for students to buy and use as their own and some of my papers do big business! Shocking. I never knew, I’m not very important, who’s heard of me, I never got a penny for those peer-reviewed publications and these assholes are making a killing because I’ve seen what some are charging. The worst of it is, academics don’t make a dime from publishing original research, at least not in the social sciences. You’re lucky if you get a contributor’s copy because I didn’t for at least a third of the journals that published my work. (Yes, I’m on Google Scholar, which isn’t remotely accurate about my work and citations. You can find me here if interested.) Anyway, what I found inspired me to start opening boxes I could both reach and maybe could physically handle — something embarrassing and difficult to admit as I was always strong but no longer am. So recently I found a small box within a larger box within an unopened wardrobe box and I was elated to find it had copies of all but a couple of my books! With some, there were just one or two copies, but with a few others, there were dozens! THUS, the point of all of this is those books of mine that I have sufficient surplus, after I donate 2-3 copies to some Special Collections libraries, will be the object of my focus as I attempt to find out how to get some out onto the marketplace, both ones that have been in massive demand and maybe some that never were listed for sale (predating Amazon — god!) in the first place, so I’m not sure if I can get them carried again by Amazon and other similar stores — I have an official Amazon Author page which has seen titles sadly decline from 9 to 7 to 5 to 3, etc. I approached Amazon about carrying some digital or tactile copies once more and they asserted they would only deal with the publisher when it came to that, and/or whomever holds the copyright rights. Which is me. And I had had no interaction or even knowledge of this one particular publisher in years, so I tried to look him up in New Orleans and found that he’d died a few years ago and there no longer was any company. Which got me worried. I started looking for the publishers and companies of most of the books I was interested in and found virtually none were either still alive or findable and most of the companies were long gone. I don’t know if Amazon will accept that and I intend to consult the Authors Guild legal department for advice, In the meantime, I see no reason why I can’t announce now my intended goal of making some available for sale here on this site, Yay! Of course I must figure out a way to accomplish that. I have a PayPal account and had a business account for some years for one or two businesses I owned before retiring. I also had a Stripe account. I suspect PayPal would be accommodating, but it’d be the logistics of simply setting it up here, provided they give me a go. Until then, I’ve figured out a possible way of making this feasible and workable until making it more obvious and official looking. I know how to do this from when I was a merchant previously, as well as a consumer. You can make a PayPal payment by sending it, provided you have a PayPal account, to the email address associated with the seller’s PayPal account (me) and unless things have changed over the past couple of years, it was that easy. There are other options too, but that’d be the first I’d explore. If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, ideas, etc., I’d be grateful for any comments to help get this accomplished. I have no planned date or time for my next announcement, but it won’t be one involving sales. It should be pretty cool and I think many of you will dig it. Thanks and have a good one! — Scott

PS: some cover shots of some of the little books I may be trying to make available to the public…

My book Places (Sterling House Press, 1995), Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.


Grungy Ass Swaying (1993). A collaboration with Paula Weinman that I regret enormously. Raunchy and naturally representing me in the Library of Congress!

Distant Visions, Again and Again (1994). Probably known as my only “tranquil” book, the reviewers generally liked it while noting I apparently was taking a break between raunchiness and violence. Hah!

Shadows Before the Maiming (Gothic Press, 1999). One of 5 books I had published in 1999, I didn’t have any major expectations for this one. I found myself surprised to be reviewed, labeled, listed, indexed, cataloged, etc., as a Horror writer and this evidently was a book of Horror poetry. So much so that it was listed in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror for 2000 (Carol & Graf), as well as both the book and myself reviewed and listed in magazines, books, on websites, etc., and despite that appearing in 1999, it continues to this day and that book has remained in high demand and is viewed as a collector’s item that’s typically very hard to find.


How about some screenshots of pirate sites of groups ripping me off, making some of these books available illegally with me naturally not getting a dime, nor having even known of it until I started looking last summer. Nice gig if you can get it, I suppose…

For your amusement.


This tricky outfit looks virtually identical to the plausibly legit Open Library where one checks out a book at a time, as with a real library. This outfit is clearly trying to emulate the real thing while drawing people in to swindle them and the authors. I have an older screenshot with their insignia at the top looking identical, but it read “Digital” Library rather than the actual Open Library they’re now screwing. One of the many ways you can tell it’s a pirate site is — most do this and it’s clever — after listing title, author, ISBN, publication info, etc. — they, and most others, then try to confuse any bots or web crawlers that might spot them for what they actually are by filling the text of their webpages with garbage containing keywords — title — but in relation to what someone would literally expect, usually scientific or agricultural and as a result, they get passed over due to their “educational” content. It’s always a game of catch up with criminals.

A link for an illegal copy of my popular Never-Ending Cigarettes. Notice the textual gibberish.

Notice the identity of the seller in the cute little URL. I’ve spent MONTHS trying to access that site and it’s like it knows I’m the damn author or something because it’s blocked me every time no matter what browser, what device, what IP. Until finally … the next screenshot.

Note the standard pirate tactic, or one of them. Totally accurate book info, including even IDs from WorldCat, etc., and available in 5 different digital formats, but look at the content below and once again, biology — cells. Way to beat the good bots. This is an educational site, obviously. Many of them load the keyword, usually the title, into the gibberish 2-3 times per sentence which I would think should be a red flag to a properly coded bots, but I guess their AI isn’t as advanced as one would think…

And now for the amazing SHADOWS


This one really gets me. No physical copy of course because no one has any (except me now!). But a PDF version and for $100??? I never made that for the whole damn press run! ASSHOLE! THIEF! And just flat out brazen about it. Grrr…

The next and final one is hard for me to comprehend as a service because I can’t imagine them having any customers — for me. It’s a company called Dataresearchers and I guess they’re legit, maybe, and they don’t appear to be ripping me off at all. They not selling anything by me as far as I’ve seen. What they ARE selling are custom writing services to students for outrageous amounts of money and the two ads I’m about to show in a collage so it’s one graphic just blows my mind because I don’t have any idea at all who in the hell would pay anything for these services. I’m not that big or important or even known! Check it out…

Yes, you are not hallucinating. On the left, they’ll charge a handy fee to write a custom BOOK REVIEW (???) on my Shadows Before the Maiming? I actually AM being taught in some universities and am in some textbooks, but I can assure you it’s not for “horror poetry.” Rather, original literary criticism on authors like Yeats and Jane Smiley among others. A book review? As crazy as that is, even crazier is the service advertised on the right. They will write a “custom essay” INCLUDING a graduate thesis or freaking doctoral dissertation on me — Scott C. Holstad! For ungodly amounts of money. Frankly, it’s nearly a compliment, to be honest. But also to be honest, I think if I ever found out that anyone anywhere were actually doing their dissertation on me for any reason, I’d probably have a heart attack on the spot from the shock! There’s a greater chance of me flying to Mars on my own with no vehicle, oxygen, anything than someone getting their doctorate on me.


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On Thomas Ligotti’s Book, Death Poems

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 7, 2022

Death PoemsDeath Poems by Thomas Ligotti
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m disappointed because I had been told I would love this book, I guess because I’ve had some “horror poetry” books published over the years. Mebbe so, but I’ve had far more books of poetry in other forms published. It’s simple, and I kind of feel this largely applies to this author’s entire canon — I like the themes, tone, morbid world view (much of which I tend to share), but that doesn’t make this guy a good writer and for god’s sake, I doubt anything could save this train wreck of so-called poems that don’t suck because they are formal or because they’re confessional or populist or postmodern or experimental or anything. He’s just a really bad poet! And honestly there’s no shame in that. It’s irritated the shit out of me to see and hear more and more people over the past couple of decades excitedly telling everyone they write poetry. At this point in time, EVERYONE thinks they’re a poet, and damn good at that. Trouble is that’s bullshit and always has been! Just because you throw together a few lines, maybe even self-publish a small volume of verse, doesn’t make you a fucking poet! I cringe every time I have to go to a wedding or funeral cause I know I’ll hear the worst kind of crap written by sincere, well meaning people. And they’ll get applause. From an audience that doesn’t realize the stuff they grew up reading and studying 50 years ago is so obsolete and a part of the distant past, they don’t realize they’re both showing themselves to be amateurs and a bit ignorant. Not that one has to be on the cutting edge. Many mainstream poets I can’t stand are still GOOD at their craft. Many populist poets, spurned by the Academy, like Bukowski, despite the image he fostered, knew how to write a poem and good ones. He knew the literary and poetic “rules” AND he knew how and when to bend or break them and pull it off effortlessly. Here’s a very famous American writer nearly everyone in the world has heard of and who has millions of fans (including me). Could tell a mean story, had real talent and influence. Most people can name more than one of his novels. But how many people know the titles of Jack Kerouac’s books of poetry? Right, no one. And I have them all. The fact is, no matter how famous or successful a writer he was, he was by god one of the absolute worst published poets of the past century! Wretched shit! Just cause you think you know poetry or you put lines down or a couple of people make flattering comments doesn’t mean you’re a real poet and certainly doesn’t mean you’re GOOD (using Kerouac as an example). People object and argue It’s subjective, and there is a bit of truth to that, but that’s not limited to poetry. That’s the argument made and the difference between the hard sciences and the soft or social sciences. You could make a legitimate argument that not only are poetry and literature subjective, but so are philosophy, religion, the arts, social studies, etc. But that’s why some general guidelines exist in each of these areas. That’s why you will study Hegel, Sartre, and Schopenhauer in philosophy but if you innocently (and ignorantly) ask virtually any philosopher or philosophy professor why we don’t study Ayn Rand, you typically get one of two reactions: side splitting laughter lasting uncomfortably too long or a hostile lecture about what a lightweight dittobrain brain she was, a “faux” intellectual whose “school” of philosophy she created is viewed as little different from how L Ron Hubbard is generally viewed. And they’re right about her. And just to prove I don’t have an anti-Rand bias, I was devastated when I found that one of my favorite writers and philosophers, a damn Nobel winner, ALSO typically isn’t included in Philosophy syllabi or viewed as a “real” philosopher — Camus! And I’ve long thought he was one of the three greatest existential philosophers in history, a view not shared by the “pros.” See, there are guidelines that can be employed that AREN’T necessarily in black and white, thus allowing a Donald Hall and Mark Strand to co-exist with Bukowski and Ferlinghetti as “legit” poets — even if that doesn’t always sit well with them. So Ligotti? I’ve gone on too long now and am tired, but it doesn’t matter if your language is formal, informal, experimental, etc. It still has to flow, to “sound” good on the page. If formal, what fits into the rules of rhyme, meter, stanzas, etc., must sound as natural as possible, must flow, not draw attention to itself and detract from the overall poem because it feels and seems forced. And while it’s harder to argue for rule adherence in free verse, just that one topic still applies. The language should actually seem and sound MORE natural, normal, flow comfortably, even in the case of surrealists or LANGUAGE poets. Because they know what they’re doing, what rules they’re intentionally breaking and why they MAY be successful at it. Ligotti’s poetry is made up of lines, words choices, a stilted dictation and lack of flow; it distracts from any point or message he may or may not be attempting to convey. It’s amateurish, buffoonish. It sounds like someone’s illiterate grandpa might. Fans may protest and argue “That’s the point, you dolt! He’s TRYING to make people uncomfortable with his poetry and his writing style, word choices, grammar usages, etc., are all part of that. How stupid are you?” (Meaning me.) Well, a rebuttal that’s I think many would agree with is been there, done that. It’s not remotely original but is definitely legitimate. I’ve done that myself with a number of poems and short stories when I was experimenting with postmodern metafiction. But while legit, just because someone may attempt to do that doesn’t mean they succeed or are any good. Which is the case here. I’ll end by throwing out a few names of authors who did exactly that, but SUCCESSFULLY, and are well known and loved by many (though still rarely in academia). One considered one of the best was William Burroughs, starting with his infamous Naked Lunch and most of his work thereafter. He and a partner are credited with popularizing and honing the “cut up method” to create almost meaningless text but still text one could get something out of. Ironically he was not the first, as Tristan Tzara and the Dadaist movement actually created and generated that technique. In the horror genre, there are fiction writers and the occasional poet who venture there (and also not “straight” horror, but more like dark surrealism that can incorporate horror elements). In no particular order, some who come to mind might include Anthony Burgess, who was SO linguistically experimental in his shock novel A Clockwork Orange that he had to spend an ungodly amount of time inventing a new damn language to fit the characters and the book (complete with glossary at back). Obviously Vonnegut, but some more current writers in the field who may occasionally succeed where Ligotti does not might include Boston, Crawford, Wayne AS, and most obvious of all, the late Harlan Ellison. I’m not saying this author has to be or become them. But he’d be well advised to do what most serious, professional writers do, and that’s study and analyze them to see where and how he/one can grow and improve, with your own voice intact ultimately. But until Ligotti shows evidence he’s done that, or from little I know of him, even gives a shit, I’ll continue to feel generous in giving 2 stars to this book and he’ll forever be relegated to the barely knowns, the wannabes, the amateurs who some think know what they are doing when such writers really don’t. Not recommended.

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Reflections on Lyn Lifshin’s Cold Comfort: Selected Poems, 1970-1996

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 5, 2022

Cold Comfort: Selected Poems, 1970-1996Cold Comfort: Selected Poems, 1970-1996 by Lyn Lifshin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. I’ve known Lyn personally going back to the 1980s and as “Queen of the Small Presses,” I saw her in every damn magazine I came across for decades. And I would buy, obtain or she’d send me copies of new books and chapbooks over the years so that while I only have a fraction of the roughly 150 books she published over the years, most are among my favorites and this is definitely one of them. This was Lifshin’s first book to be published by Black Sparrow Press, Bukowski’s publisher (and I think about the same time another old friend, Edward Field, started getting some of his books also published by Black Sparrow), and it was the biggest one of hers I had seen to date at close to 300 pages, or what I would call “average” for Black Sparrow book sizes. Lyn had a lot more complexity and talent than some people give her credit for, and I’m thinking of certain academics, none of whom will ever accomplish even 1% of what Lyn did, but all of whom with their big (small, actually) 2 damn books in hand have the temerity to look down on her as “inferior” because she wasn’t part of “the Academy” (despite spending time teaching a year here and there at many schools such as Syracuse). And yes, I actually had a good but mainstream academic writer friend use that description. I tried not to be pissed off. After all, most of the academics who are critics of Lifshin, Bukowski, the old Beats, the slam scene, confessional poetry, ME, etc., are quick to tout themselves and each other as descendants of Keats, Byron, Cummings, Thomas, etc., but few can match those old masters and more importantly, note the world “old.” These academics are stuck in ancient decades and centuries and either haven’t realized or cared that they’ve been killing any remaining interest in poetry from non-academics for decades, explaining their sad press runs of 250-750 books no matter how many awards they win (back when I was heavily publishing, people were often surprised to hear the average press run for most American poetry books was 750 copies. You don’t get rich off that. Which is why so many teach. Or if you’re lucky, live a life like Bukowski, be a drunk in the gutter screwing whores, gambling, playing with cats, pumping out 10 poems a night and became successful, popular and live off your writing because you don’t give a shit and you’re simply a) more talented and b) a harder worker) because while they may master craft, they have little concept of actual LIFE for you and me and most people outside the Ivory tower, so remembering back to a standard university lit review (and yes, I’ve been published in many, but rejected by more), I recall one of its average issues having poems with titles such as “Sunset at Deer Late,” “Robins at Sunrise,” “Mysteries of the Pond’s Ripples” and other bullshit like that, boring most people to tears until some are lucky enough to happen upon “less talented” (meaning “less formal”) populists who are writing not only confessional, but experimental (the LANGUAGE poets of some decades ago, the surrealists, etc.,), and who are writing about topics and things in life that are REAL to most people who don’t have the luxury of taking sabbaticals to go mentally masturbate and accomplish little while looking down your nose at everyone else. Most of the rest of us have to actually work! Ferlinghetti busted his ass to make his bookstore a success in the Italian North Beach section of SF while also making his new publishing company successful as he was being prosecuted for publishing Ginsberg. Also found time to write the best selling book of American poetry in history in A Coney Island of the Mind, a book that changed my life in changing my understanding of poetry, allowing me to learn the rules dictated to you in classes are constructs created by the untalented academic dictators and they exist to be smashed, which is what so many more interesting, popular, meaningful, influential poets of actual substance have been helping do to save poetry from the destruction that was being wrought on it by academia. Thank god! The irony about Lyn is the Academy was wrong just like my friend was (who was the director of the creative writing program at a big university). In this big book, rest assured all of these poems had been published in magazines before being collected to make up this book and most assuredly appeared in hundreds of the “small press magazines,” she and many others (I know and was one of) were known for but while she could have included those in the Acknowledgments, it’s almost funny to see the huge Acknowledgments page so full of largely only mainstream literary journals of high quality that very few academics so critical of her could barely match it! Revenge is sweet. (A small arbitrary sample: Chicago Review, Georgia Review, Carolina Quarterly, North American Review, Ploughshares, Long Shot, The Sun, New Delta Review, Chelsea, Christian Science Monitor, Caliban, Literary Review, Mudfish, Denver Review, Cream City Review, Wormwood Review, ACM, Grain, Puerto Del Sol, Hollins Critic, Free Lunch, Midwest Quarterly, Hiram Poetry Review, and on and on and you get the picture, right? Yeah, like usual, the academic snobs are wrong. Just because she mixed with the masses didn’t mean she couldn’t play in their yards too and she did so more and better while at it.)

Lyn was loved and appreciated by millions and I hope she’ll get her just due fully one day. I feel privileged that while I was serving as poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review for some years, I had worked to build the quality of submissions and works published to a very high degree, during which time our acceptance rate dropped from 40% to below 2% and we went from largely unknown, uncredited writers (nothing wrong with that — we were all there once and as long as the stuff was good, I published first timers alongside household names) to contributors whose credits typically included Poetry, NYQ, Partisan Review, Rattle, Paris Review, The Atlantic, the New Yorker, etc. Even had an 8-time Jeopardy winner. While I was publishing writers I like and respect who have credibility and credits like Simon Perchik, Alan Catlin, Dancing Bear, BZ Niditch, Marilyn Kallet, Clifton Snider, Lowell Jaeger, etc., Lyn naturally sent me some stuff and of course I liked it and accepted most of it, prompting her to immediately send me more — even though we were booked 2-3 issues ahead and she wouldn’t be published for 6-12 months. AND while one normally submits 3-5 poems, she would send me 75 pages on average each time. As a result, without ever intending or even really discussing it, I was able to publish some two full books of hers in serial format and I loved having her aboard as a publisher, rather than a competitor — I mean fellow contributor — in so many mags.

Thus, about a year ago when I got the news that she had just died, it hit me damn hard and I had to take a deep breath. Possibly shed a tear or two. I remember going to visit her at her condo in DC decades ago. She was still so very into ballet. I remember trying to compete with her, back when people were describing me as the male version of Lifshin because I was so prolific for a good while. But honestly, so many old friends, colleagues and even heroes and mentors in this community have been dying over the past few years that it’s gotten really hard for me. Ferlinghetti a couple of years ago. Dare I call him a friend? We spent time chatting, he gave me a million autographed books, he gave one of my books a back cover plug. About the same time, another Beat poet, old friend Diane di Prima, who I’d enjoyed a great relationship with died. She lived in the same pad as Amy Tan in SF, got together with me when she came down to LA. And joined by fellow Beat writer Michael McClure. Shit! And since then I’ve been finding more and more have died during the past 5-6 years that my health has forced me “underground,” so to speak, and no longer part of the scene, no longer up on the news. So I’ve learned far too late of the deaths of Will Inman, Walt Phillips, Todd Moore and hell, I was looking through the contents of an archive of an old friend in Stanford’s Special Collections (actually Ginsberg, to be honest) and I realized half the people were damn dead now but the worst was when Gerry Locklin died last January thanks to COVID, or how I choose to describe it, thanks to the white christian nationalist science denying alt right republicans. Bastards! Proof of no god right there. It’s gotten so that I’ve started trying to find old writer colleagues who are still alive because I fear I may be the last one standing and I always thought I’d be one of the first to go. Alphabeat Press’s Dave Christy just died a few months ago. Good old Ed Field is approaching 100 and I don’t want to jinx that. I know Cat Townsend and Belinda Subraman are still out there, and I think I’ve heard Dan Nielsen is still around, but Gerry? Lyn? Life is cruel.

Look, Lyn was famous for her Madonna poem series, for her mother/daughter anthologies, for the film they made about her, for laughingly (almost) knowing you’ll see her in any mag you get published in, no matter how small, how niche, what country or language, and she was known for a million other things too, but she was damn talented and interesting and always had this mystique about her and I think this is a great book to either get to know her or to relish reading her again. I can’t recommend this book more fervantly. Get it!

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Book Review on Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America by Evan Carton

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 13, 2021

Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of AmericaPatriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America by Evan Carton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Brown. The John Brown Gun Clubs. He was controversial, hated by many, admired by some, likely a hero to many victims. A political/historical lightning rod. Some would agree he was a humanitarian and race patriot while possibly disagreeing with some of his methods and actions. Others will hate him and his legacy for eternity. I found his upbringing, strong convictions and willingness to do virtually anything and risk everything in order to do what he felt was not only right, but likely ethically and morally necessary. Yet while I agree with his views on the issues he faced and attacked, I remain bothered by one thing. He grew up in a very historically traditional Euro-American puritanical household, much like me in a stringent Calvinist family, much like many Americans historically. For these people, there is nothing but black/white, hot/cold, “right/wrong,” heaven/hell. In other words, no gray areas, no moderation, no compromise, and a total refusal to consider anyone else’s interpretation of their Christian religious beliefs (historically Calvinist or Calvin/Knox-influenced) could possibly be right when THEY are the only ones right. We’re talking many millions of Americans over the past 400 years up to today’s evangelicals/fundies. So while I think racism/slavery and his moral objections were right, the fact remains that Southern “Christians” used the very same holy book, the Christian Bible, to justify slavery and even argue Jesus/God demanded it — and like it or not (and I do not), Jesus (I think) and certainly Paul essentially condoned if not encouraged slavery in the letters, sermons, teachings, etc., attributed to them. So if John Brown was using the Bible as his moral compass for what ultimately started/resulted in the Civil War, he actually technically would likely have been very wrong! Which begs the question, if he (or anyone like him) were that fervent in America (like many other monotheists in other countries and cultures) to take one or more issues from their holy books and make it their lives’ obsession to the point of murders and even war, would anti-racists and progressives still support and praise him? Because then what would be the difference between them and “radical” Islamist jihadists? They’re referred to as extremists, but aren’t they possibly (because I’m not entirely sure) acting the most accurately of that faith in following through on their holy book’s teachings? Despite their methods and actions, which the rest of the world does not condone and for which they are termed terrorists? Wouldn’t US evangelicals, who took extreme views (and too many do) possibly using their holy book (too many of them don’t since virtually ALL of them cherry pick the hell out of anything and EVERYTHING they assert is required or banned by God while they conveniently ignore their god’s words and commands on many things they don’t like or agree with, proving them to be the worst of hypocrites) as justification to become a type of American Taliban? I mean, what’s the damn difference? So my concern with John Brown — and I’m EXTREMELY anti-racist/antifascist and I support the John Brown Gun Clubs — is that if he had chosen to focus on a different issue to the extremes that he did using the Christian bible as his justification, what if for example he had theoretically decided it was NECESSARY to practice a form of genocide on ALL known or suspected gay/lesbians in America, as well as any other issue he felt personally strongly about, strong enough to become a mass murderer while hero to many?

And just to drive that example in harder to make my point while also being 100% accurate in my descriptions of most influential US Christians today, what if he felt so strongly about “The [Jewish] Law” — because Jesus is quoted as stating he came to [earth] to abide by and follow The Law, a fact that is conveniently glossed over by nearly every Christian alive as they tell everyone that while the assertions that homosexuality is an “abominable sin” as seen in the Sodom story — in the Old Testament (“the JEWISH Bible”) — and some are willing to kill over that [as well as abortion], a) neither of which Jesus ever mentioned while instructing his followers to care for the old, sick and poor over 160 times in the Gospels and b) I’ll probably get shot for writing this, but the majority of practicing Jews are pro-choice and they are because they are largely convinced that the Judeo-Christian god is NOT opposed to it and hence is (essentially) pro–choice himself (sorry for the male pronoun). Before you firebomb my house, I know you Christians violently disagree, and for over 50 years one major reason I’ve heard my whole life is that it’s “Murder” (and millions of babies have been murdered because of it) … why? Because naturally life begins at conception, and of course God certainly made it that way, so we need to harass women who may be seeking one and kill doctors who perform them. Right? Uh, no. And you don’t know why because Christians not only don’t read their holy book, the Bible (they read convenient little devotionals with a couple of verses instead), but they sure as hell don’t read the Old Testament because it’s obsolete and doesn’t count cause it’s the “Jewish Bible” and the “angry” god of the OT changed to the Jesus/God of love and peace in the New Testament (which is an entirely different topic, but they’re wrong about that too, per his own words, but since they don’t read their bibles, they don’t know that).

Well, let’s address several things so I can return to John Brown. 1) If the Old Testament no longer counts (and I’ve heard that from hundreds to thousands of conservative Christians around the world — it is not a minority belief), then why fight to the death over OT homosexuality and perceived OT abortion issues? Why not fight to the death about shrimp if you’re going to be consistent? Or facial hair? It’s the epitome of cherry picking and it’s so hypocritical it’s almost beyond comprehension of any reasonably intelligent person. 2) The second point is Christians are wrong about the OT’s current lack of relevance besides anything but a history text. It’s THEIR bible and their god and you know why? Jews do. YOUR god states pretty damn strongly that he is the LORD God and HE DOES NOT CHANGE! Not then, not in the first century (CE), not today. So morons, just because you think Jesus is a better, different version of God, you’re wrong on two counts because your god states unequivocally he does NOT change and Jesus (God) was NOT about peace and love, but he stated he came [to earth] bringing a sword as he intended to destroy the family unit and turn family member against family member while also instructing his disciples to go out and buy swords. That wasn’t for catching fish. 3) Your god does NOT say life begins at conception and using that entity and the holy book you don’t read as justification for that assertion and the evil acts you do is dead wrong. I don’t have time to look the OT passage up (it may be in Isiah, but it’s been months since I read it — on my 18th reading of the entire bible from front to back), but you can look it up yourselves. Many/most traditional/orthodox Jews are pro-choice because there is a passage in “their” OT bible where God is attributed with instructing the chosen people that Life Begins At Birth — NOT conception! Doubt me? Upon birth, God breathes the Breath of Life into a newborn. Not in the womb, not in some magical holding place where spirits wait to get little bodies one day. You don’t like what you just read? Not my problem, not my fault. It’s YOUR god, your religion, your holy book — not mine. Many believe the Bible is the “inherent word of God” (and seeing their theologian apologists twist hard to explain the millions of contradictions to meet that standard is hilarious; one quick example is asking which creation story/myth do you believe and why? What, I’m the fool who thinks there’s more than one? Um, read the first two chapters of Genesis and you’ll find two different creation myths, so WHICH IS IT if the bible is the “inherent word of God?”).

Okay, almost back to the book except I still haven’t made my extreme theoretical point I mentioned long ago to drive that example in harder about Brown’s reliance on the Christian Bible for his moral code to justify his belief and actions regarding slavery. What if he were as devout as is claimed but instead of slavery (or the homosexual example I provided), he felt just as strongly about the Old Testament commandment that children are to obey and honor their parents so that if they somehow fail, all families (Abrahemic monotheists — such as Christians) are instructed to take them out and stone them to death? What, crazy? Don’t believe me? Read the damn Bible, the OT, cause that’s in there! And yes, it’s a crazy example, but that was my intent.

So if John Brown, relying on his Puritanical religious background and belief system did not decide to take on slavery but instead felt just as strongly about the previous example commandment, we wouldn’t have clubs and erect statues in his honor then if he had gone around stoning kids to death for back talking their parents! Thus while I essentially admire and support his conviction and legacy, if not his actions, it’s because I believe them to be morally correct. But I fear that if he had chosen a different controversial issue to engage in the same type of actions and outcomes using his religion to justify everything, I would seriously hate his guts and any legacy he left, because he could have become a Christian Hitler — basically what most current American evangelicals want out of Donald Trump and his fascist, white christian nationalist ilk as they proudly scream publicly that they intend to “exterminate” all minorities, immigrants (despite ALL of them coming from immigrants themselves), people of color, non-“Christians” (as if they know a damn thing about their religion, as I’ve repeatedly proven within a minute of talking to any of them), and most especially Democrats, progressives, liberals, etc., or simply everyone not like them. Do you see my point? He did the right thing, but he justified it with the wrong source, because that same source was used to justify the very reason he basically went to war, as well as millions of other historic atrocities in general, so he could simply have used that same source and “moral code” allegedly arising from it to justify any violent actions to and against anyone for any reason. And that has always bothered me about any such person and a legacy I otherwise admire as I, too, call him a true patriot. Thank goodness he actually acted more as a humanist — dare I say secular humanist? — than a stereotypical monotheistic religionist, because then he might have become a historical monster just as Hitler did as he (and Mussolini) made deals with the Pope to protect the Pope’s constituents provided the Pope supported, or at least remained silent, about what they were freaking doing. Oh, and I think I recall that Hitler grew up Catholic while many of the soldiers in the German Wehrmacht were devout Lutherans. Under the belief they were acting on behalf of Christianity and the Christian god while becoming devils (metaphorically) in the process.

I feel John Brown did the right thing and I admire him, and I admire his absolute commitment and the moral code he had in order to do what I and many others view as “the right thing” in fighting against slavery and freeing slaves. Yet I worry a part of me will always be bothered that his Calvinistic religious beliefs could instead have been twisted, much like many claim Islamic jihadists have, while showing the same level of commitment to other religious commandments as he chose to interpret them… Anyway, this book? It’s one of the better books on Brown that I’ve read. Definitely recommended.

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