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 www.abe.com 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.
WHERE TO FIND ORDER AND CHAOS CHEZ HANS REICHEL:
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 www.powells.com 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.