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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Giacomo Joyce by James Joyce; Love me, love my umbrella.

On June 26, 1914, Italian novelist Italo Svevo wrote James Joyce a letter in response to the newly published Dubliners. asking, "When will you write an Italian work about our town? Why Not?" Joyce's Giacomo Joyce seems to be just that, a sixteen page manuscript written on both sides of eight large sheets of paper, written during his time in Italy. Similar in theme to much of his other work,
Giacomo Joyce is a hazy chronicle of erotic fascination between the narrator and a female student to whom he was teaching English in Trieste, Italy. While the pages of Giacomo Joyce were not dated, many signs (as detailed in Richard Ellmann's introduction) point to the summer of 1914 as the piece's date of completion.

Unpublished until January 1, 1968 by the Viking Press in New York, the manuscript of
Giacomo Joyce had been kept in a private library until it's anonymous owner graciously allowed the pages to be reprinted in facsimile for a one-time limited edition. The Viking press did a splendid job re-creating the mystery of a previously unknown Joyce publication. The book is housed in a dusty green slipcase bearing nothing more than a sticker featuring the book's title in Joyce's shaky script.

Richard Ellman's introduction actually fills the majority of the book's pages. The sixteen pages of
Giacomo Joyce are first presented in a text-facsimile, meaning the line breaks and spacing are reprinted as best they can typographically. Following the text, Joyce's handwritten pages are reprinted from the original manuscript.

These facsimile pages also include two fold-out full-scale pages reproductions, printed on both sides, just as it was originally written. All the white space just adds to the emotional weight of the various sections:

Unreadiness. A bare apartment. Torbid daylight. A long black
piano: coffin of music. Poised on its edge a woman's
hat, red flowered, and umbrella, furled. Her arms:
a casque, gules, and blunt spear on a field,

Envoy: Love me, love my umbrella.

Having seen the facsimile of Joyce's original Ulysses manuscript, it's fascinating to see the actual format of another work. In Ulysses, towards the end of the book he started to write upside-down on the backs of other pages. Leave it to Joyce to remind us all that there are some things that can't be represented in typeface.

I picked this up in a lovely bookshop called Bell's Book Store in Palo Alto. Keep an eye out for this in rare stores, or you could get it online. Last I checked it still lists for a modest price.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Interlude: a shelf and a reading list for the plane

A brief one this week, as I'm getting ready to go out to Los Angeles for a sales conference. Thought I'd post some pictures of one of my bookshelves. I'm about a month away from moving into a new place and I'm hoping to somehow replace my cheap shelves from Target with genuinely nice ones like this. Love the way my girlfriend's plant fits right in!

Seeing as I'll be spending a good deal of this week in airports, I thought I'd bring a few books with me. I surely won't be getting to all of them, but I like to give myself options. Right now, I'm about 170 pages into Bolano's The Savage Detectives, so I'll pack that with hopes of finishing it. I've been deep into Bolano's ouvre since 2666 came out in November and The Savage Detectives will be the last one for me, having read all the others that have been transalted into Engilsh. I feel a big Bolano entry will make its way to The Oxen soon, although I may need a few more months to let his books simmer in my mind.

After The Savage Detectives, I'll be heading to either Colm Toibin's Brooklyn or Denis Johnson's Nobody Move. I'm feeling it might be the Johnson because it just looks so much more fun. Those bullet holes? Yeah, they go straight through the jacket. And underneath? Pulpy cartoon drawings of hoodlums. Don't think I could ask for a better airplane read...!

Until next week--