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In Someone's Shadow (1969)
By Rod McKuen
Cheval Books (distributed by Random House)
First edition, first printing
DESCRIPTION: What do you MEAN, you've never heard of Rod McKuen?! Why, as little as fifty years ago, he was the biggest selling poet in the United States; and in fact it's been speculated that he's sold more books of poetry now than any other person in the entirety of human history. The son of a violent alcoholic who became a drifter in his early teens (including early stints as a ranch hand, railroad worker, lumberjack, rodeo cowboy and radio DJ), after spending time as a psych-ops propaganda writer during the Korean War he washed up in San Francisco in the 1950s, performing in the same clubs as revered Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg; it was at this point that he was signed as a pop and folk singer by Decca Records, appearing in a series of cheapie Hollywood films and becoming a TV composer for CBS. A published poet since the late 1960s, he's also composed over 1,500 songs in his career, including a Grammy win, a Pulitzer nomination, a tribute album by Frank Sinatra, and two Oscar nominations (for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Boy Named Charlie Brown); and although retired from active touring since 1981, this still-alive entertainer has put in recent guest appearances in The Critic and Disney's The Little Mermaid, and just happens on top of everything else to own one of the largest private record collections on the entire planet. I mean, sure, critic Frank Hoffman once described his perpetually maligned work as containing "the rusticated innocence of a Carl Sandburg thickened by the treacle of a man who preferred to prettify the world before he described it," TIME magazine called him "the King of Kitsch" the very year this book came out, and Chicago Tribune cultural critic Julia Keller has called his writing "so schmaltzy and smarmy that it makes the pronouncements of Kathie Lee Gifford sound like Susan Sontag;" but let's not forget that his thirty books of poetry have now sold tens of millions of copies (including a million alone just in the year 1968), and will elicit many a warm chuckle from baby boomers who used his overly romantic work to woo lovers back in their countercultural college years. This fifth book of his is about as perfect an example of his '60s work that you'll find, and is the perfect inexpensive gift for the aging hippie in your own life.
CONDITION: Text: Very Good Minus (VG-). Bumped corners, tape stain on inside front cover, used-book price in magic marker in corner, but otherwise in good shape. Dust jacket: Good (G). Deep folds on left inside flap, chips along spine edges, small tears on lower-left front and upper-right back. Not just the first edition, but a stated first printing on the copyright page as well.
PROVENANCE: Purchased by Jason Pettus at a used bookstore in Dayton, Ohio in June 1999.
PRICE: US$10 (UPDATE: Sold on April 9, 2012. Listing left online for archival and research purposes.)