Sunday, September 28, 2014

William T. Vollmann, "Last Stories and Other Stories", signed with a drawing from City Lights Bookstore

I was in San Francisco earlier this summer after my brother-in-law's California wedding and had the pleasure of visiting the great City Lights bookstore. While browsing, a saw a flyer by the register for a William T. Vollmann event. I'm a big Vollmann fan and it was amazing to see how City Lights stepped up to his cult following for the reading. His new collection Last Stories and Other Stories is a composed of erotic ghost stories, and in the spirit of the book, guests were instructed to pick up a black envelope the week of the signing with instructions to meet at a 'secret location' offsite (I think some kind of San Francisco crypt). I had to fly out that day and had to miss the event, but the staff helped me get a signed copy and shipped it out to me in New York. This is a first edition, signed with an amazing drawing, and stamped with the City Lights insignia.

Currently reading:
Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests

Currently listening to:
A Winged Victory for the Sullen, S/T

Sunday, September 21, 2014

David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (signed and numbered limited edition, personalized with drawing)

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing David Mitchell at a reading during his tour for The Bone Clocks. While I'm still conflicted about the book, I'm still buzzing from his event: I've never seen an author so generous and thoughtful talk about his work. I feel like every writer talks of their novels by saying they've been living with these characters for so long that it's cathartic to get them into the hands of their readers, but Mitchell's version of that sentiment rang far more powerful. In a boldly sweeping statement, I'd say his book is essentially about the reincarnation of ideas, and he does just that with his characters. Much of the cast of The Bone Clocks is made up of tertiary players from his entire oeuvre, and he's given them a second life in The Bone Clocks, a second chance to consume him as an author, and a second opportunity to be released upon a hungry reading public. To listen to Mitchell try to formulate these ideas on stage, and realize he's not only revisiting lost loved ones but continuing to grow with them was a powerful experience. He nailed it, and afterwards graciously waded through the wordy slurry of aspiring writer Q&A, kindly plucking and reshaping questions from his petrified fans. It's wonderful to see that great writers can be great people as well.

I'm working on a review of The Bone Clocks for which I'll probably post here once it's done. For those who have finished the book, I'm curious to know if you think the novel could function with the "Horologist's Labyrinth" entirely excised.

Similar to the limited edition UK release of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, a special edition of The Bone Clocks was announced by Sceptre at the beginning of the summer. I quickly placed a pre-order from The Book Depository (with one of their many %-off coupons) and got word that this shipped in early of September.

Slipcased with unique artwork, this edition features an embossed clock in yellow boards and a maze embossed on the back. Not a spectacular as The Thousand Autumns, it's still a lovely piece. The endpapers mirror the jacket of the UK edition. Like his last limited edition, there are only 500 copies of this available.

I asked Mitchell if he wouldn't mind personalizing these for me, despite them being already signed. He was thrilled to and seemed very pleased to see that these were in the hands of fans. He drew me a lovely scribble of clouds and birds (and a boat in my Thousand Autumns), and we talked a moment about his designers. I'm honored to have this in my library.


Currently reading:
The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Currently listening to:
Oneohtrix Point Never, "Betrayed in the Octagon"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Charles Bukowski, "The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship" with signed screenprint by R. Crumb

Never intentional, but it seems I've taken another summer off. It's been a life-changing four months; since my last update on Gravity's Rainbow, my wife and I have bought a one bedroom apartment in the gloriously suburban Ditmas Park, an oasis of a Brooklyn neighborhood full of Victorian homes, driveways, trees and cicadas. We also constructed some dreamy built-in bookshelves in our home which I may feature in a future post.

I received this gorgeous Black Sparrow Press edition from my wife for my thirtieth birthday last week. Published in 1998, The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship is a collection of texts from Bukowski's journals from the early 90s. In traditional Black Sparrow Press manner, they've offered the book in a range of collectible formats, but this one is especially interesting considering it was published posthumously. Typically, a lettered edition would have a holograph poem or an original painting or drawing, but since Bukowski died in 1994 something from his hand wasn't an option. The 'special edition' credits instead go to the great R. Crumb, who did illustrations for the book (he also did a few other collaborations while Buk was alive). 426 copies of The Captain include a beautiful screenprint by R. Crumb, bound into the book, and signed below.

Very nice, and interesting to compare this R. Crumb print with the few others that are circulating around from the likes of publishers like TASCHEN. They're currently in the process of a massive reprint of Crumb's sketchbooks; two sets cost $1000 each and come with a signed lithograph each limited to 1,000 copies. Having seen those prints first-hand, I think this Bukowski print is on par, or even nicer.

Curiously, there is another edition of this out there from Black Sparrow that I believe has a portfolio of loose Crumb prints. Would be very nice to see one of those in the flesh!

Despite some IRL distractions, there's plenty more on deck from The Oxen of the Sun this year. If you're reading, please say hi.

Currently reading:
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Currently listening to:
"1970s Algerian Folk and Pop" (Sublime Frequencies)