April 21, 2014

Rare Book Roundup: 21 April 2014

In an effort to get more titles from our rare book collection listed and for sale online this year, CCLaP is now doing smaller descriptions and posting auctions more often. Here below is a round-up of the latest. Remember, if you're coming across this in the future and the eBay auction has ended, you can always contact us directly at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com for more on the book's current sale status, and to place an order.

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples by John Updike, First Edition First Printing

Couples (1968)
By John Updike
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: Like many of the writers we now consider masters of the Postmodernist era, John Updike actually got his start in the Mid-Century Modernist years, building a serious and sober reputation for himself through academically approved short stories in places like The New Yorker; but also like many other Postmodernist masters, it was a saucy and scandalous book in the middle of the hippie years that broke Updike through into the general popular culture, in his case the 1968 black comedy about dysfunctional relationships known as Couples. Based partly on the drama-filled escapades of his true-life countercultural upper-class neighbors in Ipswich, Massachusetts (and the subject of town gossip for years afterwards), it's still hotly debated among Updike fans how this particular title should be seen in the context of his overall career, as far as quality of writing; but what can't be debated is the impact this titillating volume had on the culture at large, in that this was one of the projects of the late '60s to almost singlehandedly usher in the national obsession for suburban swinging and sex parties that took place in those years, in reality a small part of this book's episodic look at ten various romantic partnerships but certainly the one thing that most captured the public's imagination, and that turned this book into a massive national bestseller. A must-have for any collector of first editions from the Postmodernist era, being sold at a modest price today because of a few condition issues with the dust jacket (but see below for more).

CONDITION: Text: Very Good (VG+). In almost all aspects, this is very close to how it appeared when brand-new, but with a bit of sunning along its top, which knocks its condition down a rating. Dust jacket: Good Plus (G+). Although in general this cover is in great shape, there are unfortunately several large one-inch tears in the upper and lower right corners of the front flap, as well as chipping along the top and bottom spines, which lowers its quality considerably. Stated "First Edition" on copyright page; lack of additional printing notices makes this a first printing as well.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the 2012 Newberry Library Book Fair, Chicago.

MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40 To the eBay auction

Bullet Park by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Bullet Park by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Bullet Park by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Bullet Park by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Bullet Park by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Bullet Park (1969)
By John Cheever
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: Matthew Weiner recently admitted in an interview in The Paris Review that his television show Mad Men is essentially supposed to be seen as seven years of John Cheever stories, which should give you an idea of what Cheever's actual stories are like: masterfully dark and subtle tales about the rotting interior of pleasant post-war suburbs, which his contemporary fans in the 1950s mistook for tales about individual messed-up people, but only with historical hindsight can be seen as an indictment of the entire "Leave It To Beaver" lifestyle so prevalent in these decades. And these types of stories reach their apex with 1969's Bullet Park; mostly famous up to then for a series of standalone short pieces in places like The New Yorker, and for two previous novels that were similarly episodic in nature, this was his first truly mature, truly complex full-length novel (and only one of two he would ever write, along with 1977's Falconer). Written while in the deepest part of his lifelong battle with alcohol, it's no surprise that this is the darkest, most bitter book of his career; but it's also one of his most lyrical, painting one beautiful New England visual portrait after another even while examining the broken core underneath. Cheever only published four novels in his career, making it easy to be a completist collector of them all; and this is a great inexpensive one to start with, often overshadowed by his other work but just as worthy of praise as anything else.

CONDITION: Text: Fine. Nearly identical to how it appeared brand-new. Dust jacket: Very Good Plus (VG+). In almost perfect shape, except for significant yellowing. Stated "First Edition" on copyright page; lack of additional printing notices makes this a first printing as well.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at the Gallery Bookstore in Chicago, 2013.

MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40 To the eBay auction

Falconer by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Falconer by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Falconer by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Falconer by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Falconer by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Falconer by John Cheever, First Edition First Printing

Falconer (1977)
By John Cheever
First Edition, First Printing

DESCRIPTION: By the 1970s, author John Cheever had already been called the "Chekhov of the Suburbs," for his masterfully dark and subtle tales about the rotting interior of pleasant post-war New England, which his contemporary fans in the 1950s mistook for tales about individual people, but only with historical hindsight can be seen as an indictment of the entire "Leave It To Beaver" lifestyle so prevalent in those decades; and he had already been considered a has-been, as a new generation of daring hippies quickly turned his "angry white guys with bourbon" milieu into tired shtick; and he had already had a bottoming-out, sinking so far into his alcoholism by the late '60s as to be hospitalized and live through a suicide attempt; and he had already had his redemption, discovering both AA and psychotherapy in the early '70s, and having the culture around him change enough that he could finally be the proud public homosexual he had secretly and shamefully been for decades. So now it was time for his comeback; and come back with a roar he did with 1977's Falconer, an unleashed Cheever for the very first time who was finally writing about the intersection of gay sex and Christian upbringing in the complicated, insightful way he had been waiting all his life to do. A metaphorical story about a man in prison for murder, who ironically only discovers true happiness for the first time through a furtive gay relationship there with a fellow prisoner, this is a novel truly ahead of its time (just perfect now for our gay-marriage age); and future historians may very well judge this to actually be the best book of Cheever's career, a synthesis of all the themes and subjects he played with over a long and varied life of subsumed and symbolic work. Cheever only published four novels in his career, making it easy to be a completist collector of them all; and this is a great inexpensive one to start with, nearly guaranteed to go up in value as the history of modern gay literature becomes more and more important with age.

CONDITION: Text: Fine. Nearly identical to how it appeared brand-new. Dust jacket: Very Good Plus (VG+). In almost perfect shape, except for significant yellowing. Stated "First Edition" on copyright page; lack of additional printing notices makes this a first printing as well.

PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at Bookworks in Chicago, 2013.

MINIMUM BID: US$20 / BUY THIS MOMENT FOR $40 To the eBay auction

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, April 21, 2014. Filed under: CCLaP Rare | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Profiles | Reviews |