Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vladimir Nabokov, The Original of Laura (designed by Chip Kidd)

Wow. I've never rushed home to the blog over a book like this. My copy of Nabokov's The Original of Laura came in the mail only 5 hours ago and I'm still overwhelmingly excited to share this one with you.

So, back-story: this book was originally written on a stack of index cards and was never meant to be released (I'm not positive, but I think someone told me Nabokov wrote most of his books on index cards...). Nabokov insisted that his son burn it when he died, but Dmitri Nabokov resisted. And now, many years later, it has made its way into bookshops.

I posted the amazing cover when I first saw it on amazon a few months ago. In the comments I was informed that it was done by none other than the great Chip Kidd! Should have got me thinking, but no... I was not expecting this.

The book is printed on heavy paper and each page is a photo of one of Nabokov's index cards. Below the card is a text-facsimile of the handwritten cards. Beautiful, and also explains the thickness of the book.

But wait, there's more:

Every index card is perforated! You can pull these all out and read them in a stack!

So subtle, so perfect. This book is a treasure. Thank you Mr. Kidd.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coralie Bickford-Smith's Hardback Classics series for Penguin UK

This week we'll take a look at another Penguin classics series. This one seems to be officially called the "Clothbound Classics"; the series collects ten 19th century novels, all bound in beautifully patterned cloth. The titles included are:

Madame Bovary
Great Expectations
Wuthering Heights
Sense and Sensibility
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Pride and Prejudice
Crime and Punishment
Jane Eyre
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Would you believe these were designed by the same artist who is responsible for "Ten Tales of the Supernatural" set that Penguin did last year, which was also the topic of my first blog post here? I'm stunned by Coralie Bickford-Smith's skill and versatility; she's able to adapt so keenly to her task at hand, whether its adventure novels or elegant Victorian ficiton. Another thing that I keep coming back to is the sequencing of the books and colors. The spine colors look so well against their neighbors that I can't imagine seeing this set in any other order.

If you liked these, take a look here: her site is finally live! And, warning, unless you want to max out your Christmas list this year stay away from the "clothbound series 2" link. Be still, my heart!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The 1967 Game Calendar by Joe Brainard and Kenward Elmslie

A birthday gift this year from my girlfriend, the 1967 Game Calendar is one of the earlier printed collaborations between New York School artist Joe Brainard and poet Kenward Elmslie. Published in 1967 by the Boke Press, the 1967 Game Calendar is a 12 page collection of calendar-girl drawings by Brainard accompanied by loose quatrains by Elmslie.

More than anything else in my library (and really any book I've ever seen), I feel the 1967 Game Calendar captures everything perfect about the spirit of collaboration. It's a funny, simple book that makes you want to get together with friends or loved ones and start projects. The drive behind the Game Calendar seems not to sell copies but more to prove to the creators that they could make something together. Its artistic ambition is beautifully eclipsed by the friendship and love that went into creating it, and because of that they managed to make something that's hugely inspiring.

Brainard embodied the interconnectivity between poetry and art and seemed to settle very comfortably and confidently in the 60s as a sort of artistic accompanist. Brainard did book covers and illustrations for scores of poets and writers in New York, all while compiling a mixed-media oeuvre of his own. His solo work ranged from collage and assemblage to comics and writing--his series of "I Remember" publications are some of the most honest and original books I've ever had the pleasure to read. I highly recommend checking out his work--there will certainly be more to come on this blog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall wins the 2009 Man Booker Prize

As of just a few minutes ago, Wolf Hall has won the 2009 Man Booker Prize! Wolf Hall is a massive book and absolutely deserves the win more than any of the others I've read. It's the War and Peace of the Tudor Dynasty and one of the finest historical British epics I've ever encountered.

I'm curious to see how this book is received once Mantel receives her surge of new readers. This is not a book to just pick up and breeze through! It is a commitment; this book will fill up your reading schedule for at least a month. It'll be absolutely worth it if you've been craving a lengthy read, but if you've got a stack of books in your to-read pile you better just slide this one to the bottom.

Wolf Hall comes out next week to US audiences. Here are both of the covers, US on the left and UK on the right-- I think the UK edition is far superior, what do you think?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz (Sunday Press)

Back in 1904, L. Frank Baum created an Oz comic strip to promote his second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. He teamed up with the illustrator Walt McDougal to create "Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz", a strip that ran in newspapers for just under a year. Simultaneously, W.W. Denslow (the illustrator of Baum's first Oz book) created a similar strip called "The Scarecrow and the Tin Man", that ran at the same tame as "Queer Visitors". Both of these comics have been reprinted in a stunning new edition by the impeccable Sunday Press.
Sunday Press makes no compromises in terms of quality for their books--these are thick colorful pages, bound in cloth between printed boards and lavish endpapers. And, let's not forget the size of these! In an attempt to recreate the long-lost experience of reading these comics in the early 1900s, Sunday Press prints their books in the same size as the original newsprint pages on which these comics were first published. Queer Visitors is a massive 16 x 18 inches (which is actually just a bit smaller than their two Little Nemo editions). They've made their books a completely immersive experience and they are worth every penny.

So, let's talk about the actual comic--it's completely fascinating in form. "Queer Visitors" was the first comic strip ever to be based on a literary work and Baum and McDougal have managed to combine the two mediums in a very curious way. Each strip features a very dense block of text that sketches out the latest adventures of our Oz friends. And it's not just comic-style captions... this is a LOT of text, I'd say equal to 1-2 full pages of one of Baum's novels. The comic portion of the strip retells the chapter in roughly 8 frames, repeating a lot of the featured text. Similar to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo, the "plot" of each strip follows a delightfully simple formula--the visitors from Oz find themselves in a strange place, and as they try to deduce their location, madcap hilarity ensues. By the end of the strip, one of the visitors, the "Wogglebug" (I know, it even hurts to type that name, let alone say it out loud), figures out where the gang's landed and it's up to us to figure it out as well. Readers would write in their guesses and a winner would be selected each week.

You can find the Sunday Press website right here. They have an online store, but their books are also distributed to places like Amazon and The Strand. Keep in mind that although not officially limited, these guys only print so many copies of their books and they won't be around forever.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Introducing: The Wandering Rocks

Tonight I've launched a new blog called The Wandering Rocks.

The Wandering Rocks is an mp3 mix gallery that will exhibit semi-regularly with music and will feature artwork by Emily Young. Take a look here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2009 Brooklyn Book Festival

Two Sundays ago, the Brooklyn Book Festival took over the Court Street area for a whole day's worth of readings, vendors, and other festivities. This was the third year for the festival, and it's come quite a long way since its first. Borough Hall was packed! It's great to see something like this get such an amazing reception--perhaps next year they'll stretch the festival out to the whole weekend instead of just Sunday.

This year, the Book Fair teamed up with New York Comic-Con for a special comics-themed zone of Borough Hall. I think this is a step in the right direction, but it might need some tweaking if they plan to do something again next year. Some of my favorite publishers had booths, featuring new releases and signings, etc, but unfortunately most of the comics booths were made up of awkward self-published writers and artists who I found were all too easy to ignore.

For the other vendors, most of the usual suspects were there, with the exception of the mysteriously missing McSweeney's. McSweeney's and I have a complicated relationship, as I used to be quite a big fan of their publications but feel like they've been sliding for the past three or so years. They seemed to have steered away from printing contemporary literature and are focusing their efforts more on kids books and t-shirts. Maybe they'll have a booth at the Brooklyn T-Shirt festival instead...

Here's what I picked up at the festival:

Nog and The Drop Edge of Yonder by Rudolf Wolitzer (published by Three Dollar Radio)
Black Jack, Volume 7 by Osamu Tezuka (published by Vertical, Inc.)
The Halfway House by Guillermo Rosales (published by New Directions)

Oh! A Mystery of Mono No Aware by Todd Shimoda (published by Chin Music Press)

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? (published by Chin Music Press)

I'm really looking forward to getting to these, but right now I'm in the middle of Wolf Hall from the Booker Shortlist and I don't see myself finishing it any time soon...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 Man Booker Prize shortlist announced

Well, the shorlist was announced this morning. It's close to what I imagined, and includes a classic Booker-esque uspet with the inclusion of Adam Foulds's The Quickening Maze. I'm reading it now and while I wouldn't say it's a bad book, it's miles below the likes of Brooklyn and How to Paint a Dead Man. The 2009 Man Booker Prize shortlist is as follows:

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
Simon Mawer, The Glass Room
Adam Foulds, The Quickening Maze
J.M. Coetzee, Summertime
A.S. Byatt, The Children's Book

I expect the judges will steer away from the Coetzee and the Byatt. At this point, although I have not read either of them, I'd throw my money on either The Glass Room or Wolf Hall. The winner is announced in early October and I'll update us all again then. Happy reading!

Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 Man Booker Prize, shortlist prediction

At some point tomorrow, the shortlist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize will be announced. Aside from spe
nding about two weeks with Pynchon's Inherent Vice, I've been slowly plugging away at the longlist since the day it was announced. I ordered a few books from sellers in the UK before the prices jumped too dramatically--Wolf Hall, The Glass Room, The Quickening Maze, and How to Paint A Dead Man.

Just for fun, here's my prediction for the shortlist... I'm basing it on what I've actually read and promising reviews of other titles I haven't made it to yet.

How To Paint a Dead Man
Wolf Hall
The Glass Room
The Wilderness
The Children's Book

I just finished How To Paint a Dead Man and was completely floored by it. It's one of those books that I know I would not have discovered if it weren't for the Booker list and I'm very grateful for its placement there. Whatever happens to the book as far as the prize is concerned, I hope people keep it in mind--its a devastatingly beautiful book about art and death and in one thread even manages to utilize the 2nd person narrative with the most jaw-dropping precision.

I'll update tomorrow with the verdict. Happy Labor Day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Penguin Deluxe Classics featuring cover art by Jeffrey Brown, Tony Millionaire, and more!

I don't think there's a series of books in my collection that makes me happier than the ongoing Penguin "Deluxe Classics" line. This series began about four years ago with a new edition of Candide featuring artwork by the great Chris Ware. Ware's work ran along the front, back, and spine of the book as well as the inside's one of the nicest looking books you'll ever find in the "classics" section of your local bookshop. Ware's Candide was followed by a number of other reprints, including Daniel Clowes's take on Frankenstein, Charles Burns's cover for Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, and Anders Nilsen's artwork for a collection of fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson.

The best part of this series, however, is this: while you may be lured in by the amazing cover artwork by some of today's most important comic and graphic artists, you also make a very important step towards reading some of these classics that you may have missed in your life. Let's face it--I would NEVER have picked up a copy of Candide if it weren't for Chris Ware's artwork. Now, I'm really happy that I've read Candide (it's pretty good!) and own a nice copy of it.

I was in the basement of the Strand this morning, thumbing through the reviewer's paperbacks when I found this, a new edition of Pride and Prejudice, illustrated by someone named Ruben Toledo. I searched for his name on Amazon and found he's done the covers for two more books in the Deluxe Classics series: Wuthering Heights and The Scarlet Letter.

These three books will be released at the end of this month. It's the first time the Deluxe Classics series has featured an artist more than once, and I think it's pretty successful. Toledo's work is just different enough with each of these titles to maintain the artistic variety the series has so strongly featured. Wuthering Heights is the weak link for me, though, as it reminds me a bit too much of Dame Darcy's Jane Eyre (though we could do some interesting Bronte sister theorizing):

Three more books will hit shelves towards the end of October: Moby Dick with cover art by Tony Millionaire, Huckleberry Finn with art by Lille Carre, and Ethan Frome with art by Jeffrey Brown. This batch is most exciting for me, as Jeffrey Brown's books (Clumsy, Unlikely) were some of the first comics I ever got into.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 Man Booker Prize Longlist

Yesterday afternoon, the 2009 Man Booker Prize longlist was announced. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the prize, here goes: the Booker is awarded to the best fiction novel of the year and is geographically limited to citizens of the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland. It needs to be a work originally in English and cannot be self-published. Just no US authors! The Booker prize is first announced in longlist: this is the thirteen-or-so books that the judges narrowed their massive contestant pool down to. On September 8, these thirteen books will be further narrowed down to just six, and on October 6 the winner will be announced. Once a book gets to the shortlist, many publishers will tweak their book's dustjackets to advertise their potential to win. Sure, it all seems very commercial, but its a gas to watch these developments from the US. Chances are, 3/4 the longlist will be books you've never heard of! In my opinion there's no better way to keep informed of overseas authors as a US reader than to track the Booker list.

And now, for you collectors, the Booker is an amazing opportunity to make some quick investments and have a two-month literary gambling session. Your first step is to read some summaries and reviews and start to track down UK 1sts of the titles that interest you. Next, plan your eBay auctions as book interest picks up Last year, I was able to find a signed US 1st of Adiga's The White Tiger at McNally Jackson on Prince Street in Manhattan for around $22. I also found a copy of the rare hardback of Linda Grant's The Clothes on the Their Backs on or something closer to $50 (plus shipping). Grant's book was favored to win. As I wasn't a big fan of her book, I sold it on eBay for around $200 right before the winners were announced. The award ultimately went to The White Tiger, boosting the value of my signed first about ten times its list. I then sold that online--made a bit of money and evened out the cost of the rest of the '08 longlsit. I got to read some great books, including one of my favorites of 2008, Philip Hensher's The Northern Clemency.

So, you can do this to! The longlist is below:

A.S. Byatt: The Children's Book
J.M Coetzee: Summertime
Adam Foulds: The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall: How to Paint a Dead Man
Samantha Harvey: The Wilderness
James Lever: Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer: The Glass Room
Ed O'Loughlin: Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore: Heliopolis
Colm Toibin: Brooklyn
William Trevor: Love and Summer
Sarah Waters: The Little Stranger

So far I've already read the Waters and the Toibin. Both were really lovely--The Little Stranger was a bit baggy in the middle but she did a splendid job presenting the fading era of the English Manor lifestyle. Brooklyn is just a great read in itself. It's a very delicate novel and perhaps not ambitious enough make it into the shortlist, but it certainly gets my recommendation.

I've got a great feeling about Wolf Hall and the Glass Room, and feeling a little uncertain about The Wilderness and Me Cheeta. A chimp "autobiography"? Really? Sounds more like something from Ricky Gervais's Monkey News than a Booker contender. We'll see how that goes!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Order and Chaos Chez Hans Reichel by Henry Miller and the Loujon Press

As if I need another reason to love New Orleans! I recently discovered a rare Henry Miller book from the Loujon Press. Founded in the early 1960s by Louise "Gypsy Lou" Webb and her husband Jon, the Loujon Press was responsible for publishing some of the first works of Charles Bukowski. The couple printed a literary magazine called "The Outsider" from their apartment in the French Quarter, hand-pressing the magazine themselves. The Outsider ran for only five issues in four books (four and five were bound together). From what I gather, these were meticulously bound in a way that ensured they would be treasured. A listing I've found on says that the last issue included one of 500 "sealed-in-by-hand still life of flora, picked inside a mile of Geronimo's grave, and bound reverently by Gypsy Lou".

Reverently is right. Let's take a look.

This is a book by Henry Miller called Order and Chaos Chez Hans Reichel. This is the numbered "Cork" edition, originally priced at $14.00 in an edition of 1399 copies. There were a number of different editions done, including lettered copies, leather-bound copies, orange-stained cork slipcased editions, and so on. Flipping through the cork edition, I'm shocked that this was essentially the cheap, trade edition. The amount of detail and precision that went into this book surpasses any other book I've seen. The introduction is in a rainbow of heavy handmade colored paper. Each colored page is printed in different colored ink. There's a laid-in photograph over the front end-papers. The limitation page is printed on thinly sliced cork! After about ten of these vibrant pages, we reach the meat of the book--quintessential Miller presented in diary format, full of poems, songs, and other Miller-esque passions. I'll reprint the forward that Karl Shapiro wrote:

The magnum opus of Miller is a single anti-novel, not yet finished, which will run seven or ten or twelve novels. The rest of his books, uncountable, are footnotes, ornaments, offshoots, cartouches, belonging to the main book. His work will never be able to enter a canon; it will always defy the traditional; it is sabotage to all that still stands of the museum of culture. Yet it is the farthest thing from negation. What really shocks people about Miller is that he is happy. Happiness is obscene.



I moved apartments about two months ago and decided it was time to get rid of some old books. Over the course of a few years I'd managed to pick up a lot of titles that I discovered I wasn't especially into. So, instead of hauling them to the Strand to be cherry-picked, I found that has a new way to buy used books on the web. I HIGHLY recommend this. It's amazing how easy and lucrative the whole process is. You type in a book's ISBN and they'll offer a decent amount to your paypal account or a better amount in virtual credit. They send you a pre-paid shipping label, and when they receive your books the process the money due. I went the route for virtual credit and was able to get my hands on some really special pieces. I noticed they've got another copy of this gem up there right now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Charles Burns rarities and the Buenaventura Press

Charles Burns is an artist/graphic novelist who has a devastatingly small collection of widely available works. His opus Black Hole was released in 12 issues between 1993 and 2004 and is now available as a collection by Pantheon Books. Black Hole is the story of a group of teens in a small town who contract a strange STD they call "the bug" or "the teen plague". It causes these kids to mutate in very slight and troubling ways. What's incredible is Burns's ability to make you look past these startling mutations and see that deep down these are just kids in love, kids growing up. If you've not read Black Hole, I strongly urge you to do so. He manages to tap into the nightmare-side of your subconscious and shows you that its perfectly okay (and even healthy) to explore its depths.

Maybe you've already read Black Hole and think that's the extent of Charles Burns's works. Not so! His pre-Black Hole short stories have been anthologized by Fantagraphics and can be found at a number of book shops. Wikipedia tells me that a final volume of early stories called Bad Vibes is on its way as well.

Burns had an animated piece included in a french film called PEUR(S) DU NOIR. Check it out:

Peur(s) du noir Teaser

And finally, I'd like to point you towards the estimable Buenaventura Press. Buenaventura is responsible for the finest comics art publications I've ever encountered, namely the Kramer's Ergot anthologies. Not only does Buenaventura put out some flawless publications on their own, they manage to track down rare works from publishers around the world and sell them through their webshop. I've been able to pick up some obscure Charles Burns pieces through Buenaventura Press, including the limited edition, letter-pressed Swipe File.

These are still available, but won't be for long. I've wanted an original piece by Burns for a long time and Swipe File is a perfect compromise for those of us with a modest budget.

I was able to meet Charles Burns at the Buenaventura booth at the MoCCA fair last month. It was also great to talk with Alvin Buenaventura--he's hugely passionate about the work he does and I'm very eager to see what's to come from BP. Hearing that I was a big fan of Charles Burns, Alvin told me to ask Burns for some "free shit", like it was some sort of secret code word. Turns out Burns often prints a home-made mini-comic called "Free Shit" that he hands out to friends and fans at these fairs! Free Shit #14 is the little blue thing in the picture below:

Also included in these photos are Le Muscle Carabine #1 (which Burns did a cover for), Close Your Eyes (a collection of early work), Plague Boy (two staple-bound minis of early work), and Permagel (a collection of new and existing work finally printed in a high-quality format).

WHERE TO FIND THESE PIECES: Buenaventura Press is the place to go!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Imperial and The Humbling

Somehow we're already well into July, which means we've made some progress through my recent post of summer releases. Living in New York certainly has its perks for the casual reader as the publishing world is all around us. Many great bookshops in Manhattan manage to get new books early and they can be yours if you know where to look. Although I'm not the biggest fan of the store, the first place to check for new releases is the basement of the Strand. It's packed to the gills with preview copies of many new titles; everything is half off the list price and often you'll find cute PR letters from the publishing house tucked into the book's flaps. Even though it’s not due out until the end of the month, I found a copy of Imperial down there.
The book looks to be just as amazing as I had hoped--a quick skim through the 10 or so pages of contents will make you dizzy with the scope of this tome. But, it's all very organized and seems to be actually quite a focused book. It's not like Vollmann's going to ramble aimlessly about how crazy life is down by the border--similar to the McSweeney's edition of Rising Up and Rising Down, Imperial follows a very calculated outline and while I'm only about 25 pages in at this point I am blown away with how good this one is.

Coincidentally, the same week I get one of the biggest books ever published I was able to get my hands on what might be the smallest new release: Philip Roth's The Humbling.

Just over 140 pages, I started this on the train home from work one day and it was done by the time I got in the next morning. I don't want to give anything away as far as the story is concerned, but Roth's done it again. You may already know The Humbling follows the breakdown of an old actor who "loses his magic", but Roth's actually composed the book into three acts and kind of follows a theatrical structure. Chock full of soliloquies, It's the closest thing we'll get to an actual play written by Roth. It's a powerful little book and fascinating in structure.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura

Quick follow-up to my post of upcoming releases:

Below is the cover of Nabokov's The Original of Laura according to Amazon.

I don't know who designed this but I can't imagine the stress they had to deal with the get this right. I think it works! I love the fading letters; we don't need to see the full name and title because we know exactly what it is and arguably have been waiting for this book for 30+ years. But what about those readers who don't know Nabokov? While I adore this cover, I can't imagine it does much for someone who is not familiar with the author or the work. What do you think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seattle's Chin Music Press

Whew—hopefully I’ll never have as long a gap between posts as this past one. Firstly I’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone who found their way over here from The Book Design Review. Hope you like what you see and stick around for a while.

I had two of my busiest weeks this year, both at home and at the bookstore. Not only did I just move apartments, but two weekends ago was Book Expo America at the Javits Center in Manhattan. I spent most of May prepping for BEA, as many of the major players at the company I work for flew into town for the fair. I was able to go to BEA on Sunday and walk the floor—it was remarkable how different the mood was this year as opposed to my last visit in 2007. This year was all business: many publishers that I was excited to see were locked into meetings and not especially receptive to casual walk-ups. In a convention center full of focused, business-minded publishers, those few small presses that put an obvious effort into expanding their readership (instead of just their accounts) stood out even more than they probably know.

I think we’re in good shape If Seattle’s Chin Music Press ( is any indication of the future of independent publishing. At this point they’ve got a small list of books but from where I stand they’re doing everything right.

Based in Seattle with strong ties in Tokyo, Chin Music calls themselves the “Antidote to the Kindle” and you can see why. All of their books are bound exquisitely and put together in a way that each book feels like a treasure from some rare book room. Some have full-color spreads, some have sewn-in ribbon place-holders. Goodbye Madame Butterfly, for instance, has some of the most beautiful endpapers I’ve ever seen.

And not only are these books incredible to own, they’re all great reads as well. Riding the crest of the US Japanese literature wave, Chin Music provides us with a modest and intelligent look at the arts and culture coming out of Japan. The aforementioned Goodbye Madame Butterfly is composed of intimate testimonials from women living today in Japan. Kuhaku is a collection of complex essays on Japanese life that break down any preconceptions you may have of what it’s like to live out there. As a fan of another Japanese press, Vertical, it’s great to see how another group can share a relatively similar mission and take it to task in a completely different manner.

Chin Music is certainly a publisher to keep an eye on. If you’re a fan of the Japanese lit that’s coming into the US but tired of publishers and their wacky, surreal attempts at finding another Haruki Murakami, Chin Music is the place for you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Murakami's new novel IQ84 to be released this week in Japan!

Murakami's new novel, IQ84, is due out this week in Japan. Very exciting news, as its been about five years since US readers have had a long-form Murakami Novel (Kafka on the Shore). In Japan, IQ84 will be released in two-volumes, each spanning just over 500 pages. I'm not sure how long this means an English version will be, but I'm looking forward to hearing details as they emerge. I've read that Murakami's novel is to be somehow related to 1984, as the letter "Q" in English is a homonym to the number 9 ("kyuu") in Japanese. Or so I'm told!

Below are the Japanese covers for each volume.

UPDATE: Just found this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paul Bowles limited editions from the Black Sparrow Press

This week's post comes a little late on account of Monday's holiday and a lot of stress at work. Monday was spent in Prospect Park with friends and an impromptu Volleyball match with the neighboring barbecue. At work, things are getting hectic as we prep our bookstore for the upcoming Book Expo and the various meetings BEA will come with.

I'd like to share two recent acquisitions from the Black Sparrow Press, which were a recent anniversary present from my girlfriend. Two limited edition books by Paul Bowles from 1977, one called Things Gone and Things Still Here, the other a translation of The Big Mirror by Mohammad Mrabet.

Things Gone and Things Still Here is a collection of short stories; this is number 205 of 250 signed and numbered copies signed by Bowles at the colophon. The Big Mirror is limited to 200 copies and signed by both Bowles and Mrabet, this is number 150/200. I've not read these yet (as we just picked them up last Sunday) but I couldn't wait to post them on the blog. I discovered Black Sparrow when I discovered Bukowski in 10th grade; I remember how exciting it was to find myself more interested in a publishing house as a whole as opposed to their authors individually. It's remarkable to be able to return to Black Sparrow as an adult and as a full-fledged collector. My purchase of Bukowski's Love is Dog From Hell all those years ago may very well have been the carrier for whatever book-disease I've got.


We found these in my favorite used bookstore in Manhattan--Skyline Books on 18th Street, between 5th and 6th avenue. The owner has an incredible collection of rarities, all obviously hand-picked by a passionate collector. If you're in the area, I urge you to check it out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Upcoming Releases for 2009

This week we'll take a step away from my collection and take a look at what releases are on the horizon in the book world.

Coming June 2nd is what might be the final release from John Updike (unless they unearth some unseen manuscripts): a collection called My Father's Tears and Other Stories.

Later in the summer is William T. Vollmann's Imperial. This book is going to be massive--over 1300 pages! First off, this might have the highest jacket price I've ever seen...this one lists for a steep $55.00. Regardless, I'm excited about the book: it's a chronicle of south-west America and the tensions between the US-Mexican border. I'm a big Vollmann fan and amazed at the areas of his expertise.

Those of you who have seen Vollmann's other works know that he often includes photographs and drawings with his text. Poor People, for instance, had about 100 pages of photographs in an afterword. Sure, Vollmann is a better writer than he is a photographer, but the quality of his photography is not really the point. It's more about proof; the fact that there is concrete documentation of Vollmann's exploits give his books even more of an impact. Powerhouse Books (left cover) will release a companion volume of Vollmann's Imperial photography the same week Viking's 1300 page Imperial hits shelves.

August will see the release of Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon and The Skating Rink by Roberto Bolano.

Coming in September is Richard Powers's Generosity: An Enhancement. Also in September US stores will finally get the latest work of the great Kazuo Ishiguro: Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall.

The Ishiguro opens up something that bothers me quite a bit as a book collector. Nocturnes actually came out about 2 weeks ago in the UK. Why will it take over 4 months for the book to come out in the US? It's always frustrating. Now, in my search for a UK edition of Nocturnes, I found that the book was also released as a limited edition for UK audiences. The books are signed, slipcased, and while I don't think they're numbered I've read that they only printed 2000 copies. My copy should arrive any day now, and you can get yours too:

Ishiguro is really one of the great living literary authors of our time. This is a no-brainer for any collector and this will certainly be worth quite a bit more down the line than the $40 it'll cost you now.

Finally, two big ones just showed up on Amazon slated for release in November. Philip Roth's thirtieth book (!!) The Humbling is a short novel about the late-life crisis of a critically acclaimed stage actor. Love the Milton Glaser cover.

Also scheduled for November is the mythical, fire-proof Nabokov manuscript, The Original of Laura.


An exciting year in books! Here's a recap, with dates. These dates will surely change as we get closer to the release date.

My Father's Tears and Other Stories by John Updike, June 2, 2009

Imperial (Photography supplement by PowerHouse), July 21, 2009
Imperial by William T. Vollmann, July 30, 2009

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon, August 4, 2009
The Skating Rink by Roberto Bolano, August 4, 2009

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro, September 22, 2009
Generosity: An Enhancement, Richard Powers, September 29, 2009

The Humbling by Philip Roth, November 2, 2009
The Original of Laura, Vladimir Nabokov, November 3, 2009

I'd like to ask people to follow the blog on the column on the right if you like what you've been reading. Please leave comments on the posts, too. I've got a slowly growing column of links on the right--if you'd like to be featured please get in touch and we'll talk.