Monday, May 25, 2015

Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle Book Four (signed first US edition)

This is a signed first edition of Book Four of Karl Ove Knausgaard's six-volume masterwork My Struggle, published last month by Archipelago Books in Brooklyn. I'm a passionate Knausgaard supporter, and have written quite a bit about the first three volumes of My Struggle, which you can find at the following links:

I picked up a copy of Book Four for myself at Powerhouse Books in Brooklyn after Knausgaard made an appearance there to support his new book. In the flesh, it seems Knausgaard mania is still a thing, as Powerhouse told me their huge shop was packed to the gills with fans who pre-ordered tickets to the event. I would've been there, too, had I not had a conflict that night.

Now, like any good book collector, I picked up a second copy of Book Four along with my own: one to keep, one to sell. My copy has been on eBay for a measly $50 for the past few weeks and I've been stunned out how little activity there's been on it. Last year, I found a trove of signed copies of books one through three and they sold close to $200 each, with people fighting for the high bid. Now, I'm getting 10 views a week, if I'm lucky.

Does this mean that on the collector's front, Knausgaard mania has passed? Seems so. Lucky for us, they're still outstanding books, far more valuable in their content than their collectible state.

Currently reading:
William T. Vollmann, The Rifles

Currently listening to:
Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book to buy: Yoko Ono, Grapefruit, first edition facsimile from MoMA (2015)

I recommend that any collectors out there get an order in for this: in conjunction with the new Yoko Ono exhibition at MoMA, New York, MoMA has created a facsimile edition of the artist's monumental 1964 book Grapefruit. The Wunternaum first edition of this are impossible to find, as many of them are already locked away in museum collections and valued in the tens-of-thousands. And, others out there look like this soiled piece that I found on the Grapefruit wiki:

Because MoMA naturally has a pristine copy in their collection, with Ono's blessing they created two facsimile editions of the book. One started at $750 and was signed and numbered by Ono in an edition of only 50 copies. These have sold out ridiculously fast, have doubled in price in two days, and I believe are completely gone at this point. For the rest of us, for a mere $150 you can buy an unsigned one from an edition of 500 copies. When I placed my order yesterday, a store employee told me there were likely about 150 left.

Go here to place an order; I'm certain this book will be worth a lot, and it's really a special piece. The book is composed of 150 instructional "artworks", like the two below.

The book is small, only about 6 inches squared. I think this is an obvious acquisition for anyone's art library, or for those smaller-scale investors who want a piece that, in my opinion, is sure rise in value.

Currently reading:
Mikhail Shishkin, The Light and the Dark

Currently listening to:
Kamasi Washing, "The Epic"

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Towards a New American Poetics, limited edition signed by Allen Ginsberg and more (Black Sparrow Press, 1978)

This isn't technically in my collection, but passing through: Towards a New American Poetics is a gift my wife and I will be giving to a relative who will be getting his Ph.D. next month in American literature.

Published in 1978 by Black Sparrow Press and edited by Ekbert Faas, Towards a New American Poetics features essays by Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley, Robert Bly and Allen Ginsberg, as well as an interview with each by Faas.

In traditional Black Sparrow Press form, the book was issued in a trade edition of 1000 copies as well as a limited, numbered edition of only 125. These copies were all signed by the authors, with the exception of Charles Olson who died eight years previously. Pretty neat to see all these important poets on one signature page:

And, for good measure, an excerpt of Allen Ginsberg discussing Whitman's nonexistent influence on Howl; credit goes instead to Hart Crane, Shelley and Williams.

Copies of these are out there, kicking around eBay for a high fixed price and the option to make an offer. This was a little out of reach for us, but I figured I'd try with what I felt was a low offer (but still somewhat appropriate considering the book)... The seller accepted it, to my surprise, and the book is ours. I think it'll be a great gift.

Currently reading:
Notes from a Dead House by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Currently listening to:
Red House Painters, S/T (Rollercoaster)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring 2015 limited and special editions (Anthony Doerr, Tom McCarthy, Tom Stoppard, Richard Kraft, Mark Z. Danielewski, Nick Cave)

Right now, I know of six exciting special editions that are still available for purchase and pre-order. Keeping an eye on this sort of thing is essential for collectors -- awareness is a key part in building a special library. Perhaps some of these may be of interest.

Tom Stoppard, The Hard Problem

Faber's got a limited edition of Tom Stoppard's new play The Hard Problem and it looks gorgeous. There are only three copies left and 100 GBP seems somewhat low for this sort of thing. Stoppard's consistently excellent and this could be a major play. Take a look here -- love the green and oyster design.

Richard Kraft, Here Comes Kitty (Art Edition)

I've actually got a pre-order for this already in. There are only five copies left, and I expect they'll all sell out (and have one last uptick in price) in the next few weeks. It looks like a really fun - a surreal comic book in the same vein as Jess's cut-ups, mixed with a little Terry Gilliam. For $175, you get the book and an original collage by Richard Kraft. There are only 25 of these offered, too! I have a copy of Siglio Press's Karen Green Art Edition and am smitten with it (and have her stamp-collage framed on my wall). Order here.

Anthony Doerr, All The Light We Cannot See (Easton Press Edition)

Instead of scrambling for a signed first of this 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner (or that Indiespensible edition from Powell's), why not get this signed Easton Press edition? Sure, these are a little gaudy, but $99 isn't bad for a signed, gilt-edged hardcover. (You can even pay in monthly installments!)

Mark Z. Danielewski's The Familiar Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May (signed edition)

That's my review copy. I just spend the last few weeks with this 800+ page beast and although I was very disappointed in the book, it doesn't change the fact that a "Z"-signed first edition of Volume One is a pretty good buy. MZD's on a short tour for The Familiar and he's stopping at Powell's, who is accepting pre-orders here.

Tom McCarthy, Satin Island (signed, limited edition)

This is extraordinarily tempting, but I'm afraid at 185 GBP the price is about 60 GBP too expensive. The book looks gorgeous. It's hand-assembled in Japanese silk with a cover featuring stills from a film inspired by the novel, and also including a portfolio of manuscript pages and alternate artwork. The definitive edition, I'd say. More details can be found here.

Nick Cave, The Sick Bag Song (limited edition)

A book of short stories by Nick Cave, penned on airline sick bags while on tour in 2014? Sign me up. the "unlimited" edition looks like a deluxe edition, and for only 30 GBP you get an illustrated, full-color book in a clamshell case. The limited edition is absolutely crazy: there are 22 cities featured in the book and each city has a special edition of 10 copies (so 220 in total). Each comes with a unique sick bag with writing and decorations by Cave, as well as a cloth bound copy of the book and a vinyl audio-book on white wax. The price is a massive 750 GBP. Sure, the pound's not doing too great, but this is a tough one to justify.... Go to for more info.

Currently reading:
Anne Enright, The Green Road

Currently listening to:
"The Magic Whip" by Blur

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monsters Holding Bitches Shock Zine No. 1: Kong & His Pals

Sure, the Pulitzer may have been announced this afternoon, and while Anthony Doerr may deserve a lavish post at The Oxen of the Sun, I'm more excited to share this with you. From highbrow to lowbrow, behold: Monsters Holding Bitches No. 1: Kong & His Pals.

I found MHB on instagram (here) and have been enjoying his posts mixing old monster movie stills and new illustrations submitted by monster-lovers all over the country. When I heard a zine was in the works, I promptly headed over to Black Cloud Company's Etsy shop and placed an order.

The zine is great and exactly what you'd imagine. Love the EC-style "SHOCK" on the cover, and the hint of a MHB "Fiend Club" on the back.

No one's asking, but some thoughts for issue No. 2: how about a letters page? A message from the editor? Subscription details? The possibilities are endless.

Currently reading:
The Familiar, Vol. 1, by Mark Z. Danielewski
My Documents, by Alejandro Zambra

Currently listening to:
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "Tender Prey"

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Trash Tankas for Lady Stardust a Bowie Discography in Verse, by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore (signed and numbered, Glass Eye Books, 2002)

This week I'll showcase another early find from my collection: a chapbook called Trash Tankas for Lady Stardust by music critic Byron Coley and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. This was created for a Brooklyn McSweeney's party in 2002 in an edition of 100 copies, signed by both Coley and Moore.

The book is hand assembled and staplebound with a lilac cover on heavier card stock paper. Inside, Coley and Moore have composed a tanka (a Japanese poetic form) for each of David Bowie's albums. Take a look:

The book is numbered out of 100 copies, but my copy features two edition numbers: on the pink sheet on the back cover as well as on the colophon inside. This is copy 63/100 (inside) and 38/100 (outside).

I picked this up shortly after it's publication from a seller online for something like $20 -- I was a big McSweeney's fan at the time and still couldn't get enough of Sonic Youth's A Thousands Leaves, which I had won three years prior on a radio giveaway from my hometown station, Northampton, MA's 99.3. Very cool to see Glass Eye Books operated in the next town over, too!

Currently reading:
Last Stories and Other Stories by William T. Vollmann

Currently listening to:
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "Tender Prey"

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Joseph Heller, Something Happened (signed with mysterious inscription, 1979)

A quick post late this Sunday to show you all one of the first rare books I picked up when I started collecting. I was a teenager, and found myself in a short-lived Joseph Heller phase after having been delighted by Catch-22 and having an early taste of contemporary American literature. This was around 2000, the same year that I learned about eBay and its collectible offerings.

When this signed mass-market paperback of Something Happened showed up online for something like $8.00, I jumped at the opportunity. The R-Rated subtext here made teenage-me think I bought in on some illicit literary secret. Adult me smirks, shrugs, and is happy to share. I mean, who knows this really means, right?

"To Jenny Litt,

Hello again - - the
morning after.

Joe Heller

Currently reading:
Vladimir Nabokov, Transparent Things

Currently listening to:
"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" by Wilco