Sunday, March 25, 2012

Screwjack by Hunter S. Thompson (signed, limited edition)

This post marks my 100th update at The Oxen of the Sun!
I started the blog during the first week of March in 2009--it's wild to think how much has happened since I started writing here. I just took a spin through some old posts and was reminded about all our old furniture--I think we acquired all of our current bookshelves in the three years since I began.

My collecting has also taken an interesting twist--I no longer find myself searching through used bookshops for surprises. While fun, that style of collecting led me to purchasing a lot more books than I was reading, and I found that I was getting bogged down with titles that I wasn't deeply excited about. I began selling a lot of books and acquiring heaps of credit at places like Amazon and Powell's. While most of this turnover didn't lead to immediate profits, I was able to re-appropriate most of my book expenses towards things that were really special and valuable. Now, I find I'm fixating on certain titles--often ones I've lusted after for ages--and slowly working towards finally bringing them into my library. By watching sales and availability like one would watch stock market fluctuations, I've been able to find great opportunities and nab some of the books I've always wanted.

Like this one: Screwjack, a rare limited edition by Hunter S. Thompson. Like most fans my age, I first got into Thompson when I was an impressionable teenager, but surprisingly one of the most important things I'd learned from his ramblings and cult readership was a lesson about rare books. I remember the moment in ninth grade that I learned the hardcover copy of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" I owned was a first edition, and despite it's water-damaged jacket worth substantially more than I paid for it. This discovery quickly burst open the doors to the collecting world, and within months I found I was checking number lines in all my local bookshops.

Around this time, I learned of three of Hunter's books that became this trinity of unobtainable collector's items: Screwjack, a book called Fire in the Nuts, and a eulogy he wrote for Timothy Leary, printed as a chapbook and bound with a sheet of undipped acid. A few months ago, I purchased the Leary book online, but due to some unforeseen complications (the seller claims to have dropped it in her sink just as she was packing it to ship) I was back to square one.

Now, after trading in a number of Taschen folios to amazon for peculiarly large amounts of money, I built up enough credit to buy this from a rare dealer who occasionally lists through their used channels.

Screwjack is a collection of three short stories that are some of the most surreal pieces HST's ever published. The book was reprinted as a small hardcover in the early 00s but nothing compares to the weirdness of the original edition:

The book is bound in red cloth with a golden creature on the front. Published by Maurice Neville in 1991, Screwjack is limited to 300 numbered and 26 lettered copies. This is number 211.

I'm thrilled to finally own a copy of this crazy, elusive book, and very happy to be able to share it with you.

Thanks for reading these past three years! I hope to have many more interesting things to share with you in the years to come.

Currently reading:
Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Currently listening to:
Moon Duo, "Mazes"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Men in Space by Tom McCarthy (signed and numbered edition)

Tom McCarthy's early novel Men in Space has finally been published in the United States, and I highly recommend checking it out. McCarthy (also author of the excellent C. and Remainder) is one of the best out there--he's only a few books into his career but already reinvents himself with each new book.

For some reason, Men in Space took five years to be distributed into the US. I'm afraid that the straight-to-paperback treatment Vintage is giving Men in Space might make some readers miss it. I recently reviewed the book for (which can be read here)--if it sounds like something you might like, I highly recommend seeking it out.

In 2007, I picked up a signed and numbered edition of Men in Space from Atria Books in the UK. This is an edition of only 250 copies with a tipped in limitation page. The top image of this post is the US paperback edition and the limited edition is below:

Currently reading:
Zona by Geoff Dyer

Currently listening to:
"Shallow Tears" 12" by Light Asylum

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beard Book by Nick Morley

One of my dearest friends is an artist named Mark de Wilde, and a while back he mailed me this lucky find: Nick Morley's Beard Book is one of fifty signed and numbered copies produced to accompany the exhibition "Nick Morley's Amazing World of Beards" at the Permanent Gallery in Brighton. Accordion-folded and printed on both sides, Morley details some really exciting, adventurous beards.

Morley's etsy shop can be seen here--you might have to snag one of his similarly printed "Man and Beast" books before I do!

A delightful bit of esoterica, thanks to a wonderfuly esoteric pal. You can check out de Wilde's artwork in the embedded link.

Currently reading:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Currently listening to:
Light Asylum, Shallow Tears 12"