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The Theoretics of Love

Joe Taylor

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"Joe Taylor is a quirky genius of a storyteller. In vivid, beautiful language - sometimes erudite, sometimes edgy - he tells of eccentric characters who are in search of the genuine. The Theoretics of Love is emotionally profound, a great joy to read."
-Anthony Grooms, author of Bombingham and The Vain Conversation

Ghostly Demarcations


Everyone is constantly admonishing our narrator to keep quiet: "You're full of bull hockey, college boy... Shut up and drink your beer." Or, "'Shut up,' Michelle replied. 'Shut up,' Michelle repeated." Or, "Don't look up. At least don't shout anything when you do. She's here, on the balcony." Or, "'Shit.' Sarah spit this out like a too-hot cinnamon ball, pulled me off the dental chair, and led me to the closet with the skeleton, shushing me with her fingers." Or, "Hush, be still. Tacete, tacete." Everyone admonishes him, when all he wants to do is shout the wonders, the horrors, the terrors that he and his older adoptive brother Galen face as one spiritual incursion after another manifests in their lives, moving from trickster poltergeists to forlornly wandering ghosts to intent fetches to avenging revenants. Perhaps, instead of admonishing him, everyone would do better to heed his early, youthful deliberation: "I never heard his voice again after that night. If we humans could always recognize the last words we were to ever to hear from each person we knew or even met, our lives would perch as fragile indeed, gathering tragedy every listening moment to lean over a dark cellar, of dark farewells."


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Welcome to Los Alamos, where the big-brained boys and girls are at it again. But atoms have become passé: now it’s the Higgs boson, which they are using to develop a clean, efficient weapon of mini-destruction, mysteriously dropping bodies and groups of bodies into junior black holes within a fifty mile radius. Moreover, they’re accomplishing this perfidy in comic rhyming quatrains. Can an intrepid group of six amateur do-gooders resolve the mystery and prevent the unleashing of this new WMD? With the help of several Doberman pinschers, a versificative Kentucky writer and his vivacious muse, Herr Morguemeister, and Verdi’s Otello, a resolution seems just possible.

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Many of these stories—most especially “The Man Who Haunted Himself” and the title story—were inspired by dream visions. I try to take such visions and search for the human truth concealed within, working within a framework of verisimilitude. While I partially envy the creating of “realistic” fiction, I’m typically happy to write in the romantic mode. Um, gee, Vonnegut, Emily Bronte, and Laurence Sterne strike me as worthy of emulation. Nonetheless, several other stories in this collection (“Soft Queen,” “Ontological,” and “All Lovely”) were originally intended for a novel of linked stories that basically aimed toward an admixture of psychological/love/detective realism. For the sake of that novel’s plot progression the three were trimmed, to be included herewith. And then the stories “Breakdown Club” and “The Secret Life of Atheists” from    whence? The latter came from my youthful infatuation with Sartre and Camus. Why not, I figured, toss in some wine and Simone DuBeauvoir? And “Breakdown Club”? The junction of a trip to the zoo and my year and a half apprenticeship as a concrete finisher brought that one about. No matter the inspiration, I do think that all these stories offer a vision of life that comes across a bit skewed. And what life doesn’t offer that, in the end?


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Back to the Wine Jug


 Dateline: Hades, the Underworld, where things go bad. But things are going even worse up top with red/blue states, Brexit, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and college football. Diogenes, still toting his lantern in search of one honest (wo)man, is appointed by Lord Hades himself to teleport up to lovely Birmingham, Alabama, and mollify sundial matters, accompanied by his Doberman Pluto and Victoria Woodhull, the suffragette and 1872 presidential candidate. The trio is on the case to right the world's confusion. But Lord H. being a consomméed plot thickener, they find themselves followed in the transporter by the commie-hating troublemaker, Edgar Hoover...

  "In Back to the Wine Jug, Joe Taylor once again proves he’s a master of the comic- novel-in-verse form. (What? You haven’t yet read Wine Jug’s precursor, Pineapple? Hop to!) This time out, in a ‘universe ruled by flaw,’ peopled by the ‘survival of the mostly fit,’ Diogenes beams up from Hades, once again on the hunt for an honest being—a task made even tougher in the era of ‘Let America Hate Again.’ (Does Dio meet with success? Hint: ‘It’s not over until the fat angel rings.’) Make no mistake, Taylor employs linguistic virtuosity and comedic camp to achieve more than yuks here. Reading this book will make you laugh, for sure, but its incisive commentary on our chaotic present will also make you think.”

—Kat Meads, author of Miss Jane: The Lost Years

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100 N Washington St.

University of West Alabama Station 22
Livingston, Alabama 35470

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