(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).
Couples, by John Updike (1968)
Portnoy's Complaint, by Philip Roth (1969)
The Prisoner of Sex, by Norman Mailer (1971)
Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong (1973)
First Edition, First Printing
DESCRIPTION: Among the many cultural revolutions that occurred in the 1960s was one having to do with sexuality; after all, these years saw the rise of the second major wave of feminism, the youth movement bringing radical new attitudes about casual relationships, the proliferation of drugs fueling a lot more random hookups, and the invention of the Pill making these hook-ups safer than ever before. And even academic literature got into the act; in fact, it's easy to argue that these daring books of the late '60s and early '70s actually marked the popular beginning of the entire Postmodernist literary movement, in that many of these now notorious authors actually first established their reputations as young skinny-tied Late Modernist intellectuals, who only blossomed into their new adult careers once the hippies finally took over the arts.
That's certainly the case with the oldest title being offered in this special four-book bundle today, John Updike's 1968 Couples; already popular among academic nerds because of his Rabbit, Run from the Kennedy years, this was the book that pushed him into mainstream recognition as well, in that this is literally the first book in history to popularize the idea of suburban sex parties, and every winking reference to this subject in books and movies ever since can eventually be boiled back to this infamously nasty little character study. Then just a year after that came what is the most valuable book in this bundle, Philip Roth's 1969 Portnoy's Complaint; yet another young serious Modernist who had already been doing well in publications like The New Yorker, this still incredibly filthy comedy about an overly onanistic young Jew came right during the ascension of Woody Allen, Richard Benjamin and Lenny Bruce, and helped cement the new countercultural concept of the nebbish, neurotic, ethnic sex symbol. But not all of these former Modernists took to Postmodernism the same way: take Norman Mailer, for example, who before the '60s was known mostly as a hard-hitting journalist with Hemingway aspirations, but took to second-wave feminism so badly that he wrote the 1971 The Prisoner of Sex as a response, basically a 250-page complete repudiation of people like Gloria Steinem and everything she and her peers stood for. But then two years after that came yet another delightfully different response: poet Erica Jong's 1973 debut novel, Fear of Flying, the titillating semi-autobiographical tale of a young with-it woman during a young with-it time, and all the sexy adventures she finds herself getting into as a result, a book so influential that its concept of the "Mile High Club" still remains a naughty code phrase among society at large even forty years later. Any one of these books would make a great addition to any Postmodernist rare-book collection, but all four together is a real hat trick; and at the modest price they're being offered for today as a group, this is a must-have for anyone who enjoys collecting important countercultural objects, or those with an interest in the beginnings of Postmodernist literature.
CONDITION (see photos for details of everything mentioned here): Text: Portnoy and Prisoner, Very Good Plus (VG+). In general still in fantastic shape, with tight bindings and completely clean inside covers. Couples and Flying, Very Good (VG). Generally the same as the others, although in this case with their spines starting to come just a little bit loose from their fabric protections. Dust jacket: Prisoner, Very Good Minus (VG-). Still completely intact, with no major or minor tears, but with rubbing and a few scratch marks on the back cover. Flying, Portnoy and Couples, Good Plus (G+). In all three cases, the covers are generally in good shape and completely intact; but a half-inch missing piece on the back cover of Flying, a one-inch tear in the upper-right front cover of Couples, and a badly torn front inside flap of Portnoy knock the overall rating of all three down significantly. All dust jackets now protected by Demco mylar sheets. All four books have a stated "First Edition" on their copyright pages; lack of additional printing notices make all of them first printings as well.
PROVENANCE: Portnoy and Prisoner: Acquired by CCLaP on September 2, 2013, at the Oak Park Book Fair. Couples: Acquired at the 2012 Newberry Library Book Fair, Chicago. Flying: Acquired in 2012 at Ravenswood Books, Chicago.