Sunday, November 29, 2015

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (Signed, slipcased edition from Powell's "Indiespensable")

It's difficult for me to resist literary hype, and so Garth Risk Hallberg's City on Fire has finally made it into my home. I have a hard time seeing book hype as a bad thing and think that its potential to stir up critical controversy or acclaim is wonderfully representative of our voracious literary public. The divisive Karl Ove Knausgaard made way for Elena Ferrante, and when that wave of excitement crashed last fall with Ferrante's fourth book, it seemed to usher in what may be the most anticipated book of 2015, City on Fire. While Hallberg's reputation precedes him, from his seven-figure book deal to his nearly four-figure page count, City on Fire is sure to captivate, divide, immerse and upset scads of readers. We'll all talk about it. It's going to be great.

My copy arrived this weekend from Powell's "Indiespensable" subscription. This is my third Indiespensable book, following a beautiful cloth-bound copy of Richard Powers' wonderful novel Orfeo and the Booker Prize-longlisted Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. The subscription costs $40 a shipment, and features a signed first edition that has some sort of Powell's-exclusive element.

While I'm very excited to read City on Fire, this is a far cry from the special feel that the Indiespensable Orfeo had. Orfeo had a Powell's limitation page bound in and was bound in full cloth, City on Fire just feels like signed overstock from a recent event with Hallberg. While I don't mind supporting Powell's, and do think the fireworks-slipcase is very nice, I would love to see something a little more unique in future installments.

Still, Powell's will keep me subscribed if they keep having such a great lineup. I'm very curious to see what their next pick will be!

Currently reading:
The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Adam Johnson, "Fortune Smiles" (signed 1st edition, winner of the 2015 National Book Award)

Didn't see this coming: Adam Johnson, who previously won the Pulitzer Prize for The Orphan Master's Son, won the National Book Award this week for Fortune Smileshis first collection of short stories. I've not read Fortune Smiles yet; it's been on my shelf since August. It's one of those strange books that I am certain is perfectly great but non-essential as far as prioritizing it up the to-be-read pile. Now that the National Book Award have decorated it, I be giving it a shot sooner than I'd originally planned. (Superficially, it's great to see a collection of short fiction where the pieces run as long as 50-60 pages.)

This is a signed first edition (on a tipped-in page) that I picked up from Community Bookstore in Park Slope:

And, the colophon:

There are a lot of these out there in the $50 range, so there's still time for you collectors to snag a copy at a relatively reasonable price.

Currently reading:
Tony Tulathimutte, Private Citizens

Currently listening to:
Max Richter, "From Sleep"

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nick Cave, King Ink (Black Spring Press, 1988)

My wife and I recently took some photos of our apartment with the hopes that we might be listed on some design blogs. It's particularly fun for a book collector to come up with some stylizes stacks - here's one we used for my bedside featuring a few books by Nick Cave. Let's take a look at 1988's lyric book King Ink, published by Black Spring Press.

This is a collection of lyrics and poems from Nick Cave's Birthday Party and Bad Seeds albums. It's interesting to see how these fit into the Nick Cave timeline - the book came out before Tender Prey, but includes a handful of songs like "The Mercy Seat" and "Crow Jane" that had yet to make it to studio albums.

Also included are some great pages of handwritten lyric pages full of little drawings. Here's the page for one of my favorite Bad Seeds songs, "Sad Waters":

For reference, here's a photo of the colophon:

Currently reading:
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco

Currently listening:
"From Sleep" by Max Richter

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

David Mitchell, Slade House limited edition (signed and personalized in New York)

My limited edition copy of David Mitchell's Slade House arrived just in time yesterday: tonight Mitchell did a reading at the 92nd Street Y and I was able to get my book personalized after the event. I'm about 60 pages into Slade House and it's already a really fun, old-fashioned spooky read: described by Mitchell as a "pententacled monsterette," Slade House tells in five parts an eerie tale about a haunted house that consumes an unsuspecting guest every nine years. And, to consume Mitchell fans in a different way, the author integrates many of the mysteries and recurring motifs of his sprawling novel The Bone Clocks.

Whenever there's a new David Mitchell book, I always try to grab one of Sceptre's limited editions. They always feature alternate artwork, a slipcase, special endpapers and a ribbon, are signed and numbered, and consistently worth the $70 price that they can be obtained for online. They've done them since Black Swan Green, so you collectors should keep an eye out for that, Jacob de Zoet, and The Bone Clocks.

This is the book outside of its slipcase, featuring the fox-headed hairpin that Nathan's section introduces:

The endpapers look like the Slade House gardens, crossed with a Bone Clocks kind of maze:

Each copy of this limited edition is signed and numbered on a dedicated page. This is copy 1304/1500. 

My copy was personalized and dated on the title page:

And for a spooky finish, check out this clock on the back cover! It reads "TIME IS / TIME WAS / TIME IS NOT". How ominous.

Currently reading:
David Mitchell, Slade House