“Love at a Reasonable Price, Volume 1: First Loves” is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. It’s 270 pages, but half of those are footnotes, outtakes, or after-book essays. The latter half of the book is there so readers can escape fifty percent of the book’s philosophizing. If you heed our advice and remain fore while the aft speculates quietly to itself, the book should be pretty readable.
“First Loves” is a collection of stories and essays about manufacturing, buying, marketing, and selling Pure Love: The eternal spiritual Good within all mortal loves / Another name for the formless Light within that creates, sustains, shines through, lifts up and ultimately (by overflowing, overpowering, and overwhelming all creation) salvationates all these interwoven apparent-forms.
Imagine that: Pure Love as just another commodity to build, warehouse, advertise, distribute, profit from, and consume! Ha ha! Funny idea. Interesting joke. This first book itself? How did it turn out? Oh, it’s OK. Maybe worth a quick read, toss-aside, move-along, mull an idea or so in the back of your mind, let it pass, ah whatever, not too dull if you are into philosophizing fiction and keep charging forward (don’t fall for the footnotes and outtakes!!).
If you like the below preface, you might like the whole book, although maybe not; if you don’t like that preface, you probably won’t like the book. The risk is US$2.99 and some time and some hope.
Introduction To This Book “First Loves”
Bartleby Willard has decided to move into The Skullvalley After Whistletown Booksellers Building and begin writing for Skullvalley After Whistletown. We at SAWB are extremely busy capturing, reflecting, and refracting the infinite worlds swirling outside and inside of us. As such, we do not have the excess time, energy, and focus required to explain to Bartleby that you cannot walk into publishing houses and declare yourself a live-in staff-writer. Also, on the whole we find him pleasant. Furthermore, since he sleeps on the SAWB premises, it is easy for him to have the coffee ready when the rest of us arrive at about 9:00 a.m. sharp each weekday.
Finally, he is very tidy and has adopted the kitchen and library, making these two ancient and wise rooms (if places can be considered “wise” — and why not?: what’s a human being but a place for the Something Deeper to live in and through?) sparkle with a youthful, nearly sexual (I said “nearly”!) vigor. I hasten to add that he’s achieved this sparkle without compromising either room’s fundamental decency. Kitchen and Library now have more energy — giggles bubble up more often; and the infinitely expanding and all-enveloping universes born of these giggles pop their infinitely long elastic/filmy/wet kisses with a louder and fuller “smauack!” than before — but their essential kindness remains very much intact.
Bartleby is writing a series of short stories entitled Love at a Reasonable Price. He’s become interested in a kind of funny idea: manufacturing Pure Love (an infinite and eternal love prior to mind/matter that infinitely accepts, lifts-up, cares-for, helps, and gives) in a fictional factory, transferring that Pure Love into reality, and selling It affordably yet still profitably on the open market. “And voilà: the first truly useful business in human history!”
We at SAWB understand that you cannot manufacture Pure Love in fictional factories, transport It into reality, and then market and sell It to other people. Additionally, we are not even sure that if you could, you should. But! of course you can’t. Anyway, Pure Love already gives Itself infinitely to everyone and everything, so selling it is even more ridiculous than selling air or that delicious self-dom sensed as you gaze out at nothingmuch, watching your own watching grow quiet and sharp.
Does Bartleby know all this? Mmm. He seems to consider this project of his a joke. However, he takes jokes amazingly seriously, so seriously that one is tempted to say, “That man believes in jokes! My God! He really does!”.
Let’s you and I resolve to be reasonable, to let him have his fun while we hunker way down into the wholesome knowledge that no one — not even the elastically spinning Bartleby Willard of the poignantly explosive Skullvalley After Whistletown Booksellers — sells Pure Love.
But what wares does Bartleby, face soot-smudged and battered tin cup looped into thick leather belt, peddle? Some stories about manufacturing, marketing, and selling Pure Love. And some other stories. And by “stories” we mean whatever Bartleby means by “stories.” And Bartleby Willard, himself a self-told tale, is not much of a literalist.
Bartleby will write what he writes and we’ll keep a running tally in the “Chapters” section.
And so it began, years and years ago now. I kept falling this way and that, but — one end of a thick, scratchy, fraying rope around my waist and the other anchored to a vaguely evolving plan — my staggering went round and round this project, winding me into it more and more; and now it’s time to push my long imaginary hands against the rusty iron bars (square staves twisted like drill bits) and shudder as the forgotten manor gate swings wide open with a piercing shriek or a mournful, yawning three-stage creak; or just squeaks a little forward and then, overgrown with vines not just emotionally but physically as well, bounces back at me.
I hope the project goes well. I hope it is good for writer, reader, and the space between. I appreciate you spending money, time, and focus on this book; I’ll try to make it worth your while.
June 17, 2015, 7:35pm
Midtown Manhattan Library
PS: I think I’ll alternate stories of making, manufacturing, advertising, and selling Pure Love with stories about my life and times at SAWB.
Oh, and this one more time:
But though this venture is in part a commercial one, we still need our endeavor grounded not in profit-motive, but in kind-delight. So cross your fingers for us; say a prayer for us; keep a gentle but stern, a wary but hopeful eye on us. Help us try.
…. END SAMPLE
Everything on the site is authored by Bartleby Willard, who never was and probably never will be; edited by the equally implausible Ambrose “Amble” or “Andy” Whistletown, and copyrighted by Andrew Mackenzie Watson, who–at least to those of us mired in the realm of appearances–seems to be.
This is a production of American Turkey Printshop – “Ben Franklin says we’re a noble bird!”
This is a production of Modgepanc Bookmakers – “If it’s not in our mind-plan, it shouldn’t be on your shelf!”
This is a production of any number of other made-up enterprises.