I’d hoped to have things a bit more polished before making a formal announcement, but since the indefatigable TGGP has been kind enough to mention it a couple of times, it seems only fair to make it official that the Hoover Hog’s long-contemplated publishing imprint, Nine-Banded Books is at long last slouching into corporeal existence.
Our premiere title is Bradley R. Smith’s The Man Who Saw His Own Liver, a carefully novelized conceptualization of the acclaimed but largely forgotten 1983 play, The Man Who Stopped Paying. It may seem odd to launch a small publishing venture with a book that will be seen by many as a relic of Cold War protest literature, but Bradley’s writing easily transcends its narrow socio-political provenance. As I emphasize in my introduction, Liver remains resonant as a ground-level meditation on the problem of Man and State. Through the comically rendered gesture of war tax resistance, Smith proffers a poignant if ultimately hopeless expression of the libertarian idea as a kind of quixotic gambit. If it is less than fashionable these days to speak of "The Bomb" in terms of impending moral crisis, one needn’t indulge in far-flung metaphorical retrofitting to see the deeper significance. Fermi’s Aliens have yet to spoil our fun, and in the end it matters little just why they’re running so goddamn late.
I am not blind, obviously, to Bradley Smith’s extra-literary reputation as a self-styled Holocaust revisionist gadfly. To the contrary, his dalliance with "The Great Taboo" is to me at once fascinating and relevant, but no longer troubling. This is something that I attempt to address, though perhaps too obliquely, in my introduction to Liver, but for present purposes suffice it to say that despite the collective opinion of self-appointed arbiters of intellectual decorum, I see nothing inherently objectionable or anti-Semitic in questioning the canonical Holocaust narrative. That’s as simple as I know how to put it.
And while I have no illusions about the unseemly motivations of many revisionists (or "deniers," if you prefer), I am no less certain that Smith’s life-defining acquaintance with this impolitic subject is rooted in nothing so base or fetishistic. His preoccupation, if that’s the right word, more accurately stems from an abiding concern for the moral dimensions of belief.
Years ago, The Journal of Historical Review ran a thoughtful review of Smith’s Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist that comes awfully close to the mark. An excerpt:
. . . what shines through Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist is
the author’s adamantine resolve to concede other persons their humanity
all the while he struggles to free himself from the shackles of
"belief, the mere habit of faith," which he has come to see as "the
most degrading passion of the species." From the moment when Smith
accepts a leaflet disputing Holocaust gas- chamber claims, we are made
privy to an inner struggle in which the author must reconcile the
conflicting claims raised by civility, tolerance, shame, courage, and
If Bradley is covering for something more nefarious, he’s certainly fooled me. Not that it matters. Any more than Fermi’s Aliens, or a bundle of Irwin Schiff Woopoo chips.
I’m currently at work on three other books about which there will be soon more to say. In the meantime, if you want to order a copy of The Man Who Saw His Own Liver, you can go though the Amazon link on the Nine-Banded Books site, or you can save on shipping by sending $15 directly to me at the following address:
Chip Smith / Nine-Banded Books
600 Virginia Street West, Apt. C
Charleston, WV 25302
We’ll be set up for PayPal orders soon. Liver will begin shipping in mid-January.