Monday, September 26, 2016

The Lurker at the Threshold by H.P. Lovecraft & August Derleth (Arkham House first edition, 1945)

This is a first edition of The Lurker at the Threshold by H.P. Lovecraft & August Derleth, published in 1945 by Arkham House. Arkham House was founded by Derleth in Sauk City, Wisconsin in 1939 and primarily published works by H.P. Lovecraft and related American horror novels. One of my favorite bookstores in Hadley Massachusetts (Grey Matter Books) recently acquired a massive library of old Arkham House first editions; they're kept in a locked room with poor lighting, in my opinion the perfect way to discover bowing shelves of the Cthulhu Mythos.

These are all priced appropriately (expensive!) but I've had the pleasure of picking up a few of the many books there - including this very early Arkham House work. The Lurker at the Threshold is lesser Lovecraft, and in fact more of a Derleth book. Derleth completed the majority of the book after Lovecraft's death in 1937 by using Lovecraft's notes. It was printed in a very small run of around 3,000 copies and is one of the more rare Arkham House editions out there.

The condition isn't so hot (particularly on the jacket spine and hinges) but it's surprisingly tight in its mylar jacket. The cover is still bright for being about 75 years old. Not much in the way of tears to the cover and back cover. Back cover is below, with some previews for forthcoming titles:

Here's the colophon, for those of you interested in the publication info. Love the "In Preparation" section:

Currently reading:
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
Borders by Roy Jacobsen

Currently listening to:
Various Artists, "Los Alamos Grind!"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

William T. Vollmann, "Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs (first edition, signed with drawing)

Following my last post on William T. Vollman's An Afghanistan Picture Show, this is a first edition of the author's 1991 collection Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs. Similar to what happened with my copy of An Afghanistan Picture Show I bought this signed first with the intention of replacing the copy I already had. I'm in a particular phase right now trying to collect copies of Vollmann’s books with drawings in them and picked this up sight-unseen from Ken Sanders Rare Books in Utah for $25.

I'm glad I did. This copy has a profile-drawing of a large-featured, zeftig woman who looks sort of like a ghost with her long arm and the curling flourish at the base of the drawing (I think she'd fit in nicely somewhere in the author's Last Stories and Other Stories). I'm absolutely enamored with Vollmann's strange doodles and eventually will make some online photo-album with what I have and what else I've found out there.

Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs is a strange book to read following the genius of Europe Central which I read last month on holiday. It feels like an early work - almost naively so: some stories click but others are kind of duds, to be perfectly honest. I've had a sneaking suspicion that one could connect Vollmann to Jack Kerouac if Kerouac wasn't stuck in the aw-gee 50s -- bring Kerouac through the scummy streets of late-1980s San Francisco, amidst the drugs and prostitutes, and something like Vollmann's story "The Ghost of Magnetism" might come out.

For good measure, here's a photo of the colophon, with some details about Vollmann's artist's books. Check out "The Grave of Lost Stories", illustrated "with the most poisonous inks available":

Currently reading:
Thirteen Stories and Thirteen Epitaphs by William T. Vollmann

Currently listening to:
Frankie Reyes, "Boleros Valses Y Más"

Monday, September 5, 2016

William T. Vollmann, "An Afghanistan Picture Show" (US first edition, signed with drawing)

I recently saw that Ken Sanders Rare Books out of Salt Lake City had a trove of signed first editions by William T. Vollmann that each had weird little drawings included with their signature. My Vollmann shelf was already complete and bowing, but I took the opportunity to trade up a few of my unsigned editions with some of Sanders' stock. I love An Afghanistan Picture Show, but my copy wasn't signed or decorated, but for $25, I got this copy with a star-eyed face opposite the title page. (Shadows below are from the nearby flowers in the shot). 

Sanders has a few others, and his copy of The Rainbow Stories is very tempting (as it has a multi-colored rainbow in it). I'll feature a few more signed-with-drawing Vollmanns in the next few weeks. (I recently finally read Europe Central on my vacation to Central Europe and am on a bit of a high from that masterpiece of a book.)

Currently reading:
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

Currently listening to:
Warfaring Strangers: Darkscortch Canticles