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By John Updike
First Edition, First Printing
DESCRIPTION: Like so many of the great authors of the Postmodernist era, John Updike by the late 1960s had already established himself through the usual channels of the Mid-Century Modernist age before -- he had been a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he had come directly after his stint at the Harvard Lampoon, a prim and erudite New Englander whose precious Kennedy-era books had already garnered such accolades as the National Book Award. Ah, but then in 1968, Updike published the scandalous Couples, the moment one could argue that he went from merely a well-respected academic writer to a national celebrity; for among other things, the novel was the first mainstream book in American history to tackle the subjects of suburban wife-swapping parties and casual drug use, which brought the topics into the realm of the national "establishment" conversation for the first time, a huge bestseller that coined the phrase "post-Pill paradise" and which landed Updike on the cover of Time magazine, serving as a rallying cry for sexual freedom during the countercultural years when this first came out. (And of course, it didn't hurt the book's salacious reputation that Updike had based the anecdotes on the true stories from his real set of upper-middle-class suburban friends in Ipswitch, Massachusetts, a shocking development in reserved New England which made the book the subject of whispered conversations there for literally decades afterwards.) When combined with Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint and Gore Vidal's Myra Beckinridge, all three of which came out in the same 12-month period, Couples marks a watershed moment in American literary history, the messy and violent wrenching of the smooth and slick Modernist era into what eventually became the Postmodernist one; and for anyone interested in collecting first editions from this period, this is an absolutely must-have acquisition, being sold at a premium price today because of the exquisite condition of this particular copy (but see "Condition" below for more on that).
CONDITION: Text: Fine (F). Essentially indistinguishable from how it appeared when brand-new. Dust jacket: Very Good Plus (VG+). In nearly the same shape as when it was brand-new, with unclipped price tag, with only the tiniest little wrinkles on its spine edges to mark any aging at all. As confirmed by the McBride Guide to First Editions, a "First Edition" statement on the copyright page, along with no additional printing notices, makes this a true first edition, first printing. You will be hard-pressed to find a copy of this book in better condition.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at Amaranth Books, Evanston IL, November 2015.