09 October, 2015

Loot of the Week 10 Oct 2015


It was the best of deliveries; it was the worst of deliveries. This week, I received my first Indiespensable delivery, and it was overflown with goodness. Indiespensable is the book club of Powell's, a chain of four bookstores operating out of Portland, Oregon. Subscribing to a book club means you will receive signed copies of new first editions specially selected by the store every four to six weeks, and Indiespensable has a very strong record of selecting prize winners, including Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch" and Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See", Pulitzer winners in 2014 and 2015 respectively. 

My first Indiespensable is Bill Clegg's debut novel "Did You Ever Have a Family" - in customized slipcase, as all Indiespensable books come with - along with a free ARC of Molly Prentiss' "Tuesday Nights in 1980" and a complimentary packet of Trailhead's sustainably grown coffee. Great books and great coffee - great aroma therapy for the brain. "Did You Ever Have a Family" was longlisted by the Booker Prize, but did not make the shortlist, and the National Book Award, of which we should know in a few day's time if it makes the finalist list. 


Also from Powell's is the signed first American edition of Salman Rushdie's latest novel, "Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights". The true first edition will be the UK edition published by Jonathan Cape. The title is, I think, a play on 1,001 nights.

Then there is the first edition of Wright Morris' final novel, "Plain Songs: For Female Voices", that won the National Book Award (NBA) in 1981. The book came with a surprise: a handwritten note from the bookseller along with a hand-woven bookmark. This is part of the joy of book collection - you sometimes receive personalized items that add to the book's provenance. For example, I sometimes go gaga when a book comes with its original receipt of purchase. Wright Morris won another NBA in 1957 for "The Field of Vision", and was thrice finalists for "The Hugh Season" in 1955, "Love Among the Cannibals" in 1958, and "Ceremony in Lone Tree" in 1961, losing to William Faulkner's "A Fable", John Cheever's "The Wapshot Chronicle", and Conrad Richter's "The Water of Kronos" respectively.

Then there are the reading copies of Cormac McCarthy's work that I got on the cheap. 

These are the best of deliveries.

And then there is a worst of delivery: Steven Millhauser's "Martin Dressler" that won the 1997 Pulitzer and was finalist of the 1996 NBA (won by Andrea Barrett's "Ship Fever and Other Stories"). The bookseller packed it very well, and it ought to have arrived in pristine condition, except that I think some custom officer, with a cold, merciless and likely very sharp boxcutter in one hand, decided to inspect the content by drawing a deep slash through the layered packaging, and in the process, injured the otherwise impeccable dust jacket with a faint but nonetheless visible and tactile scar around 10 centimeter long! Murderer!


The Indiespensable box.

The Indiespensable package. Beautiful.

Wright Morris' prize winner and last novel. The cover design is decidedly quaint with the motif background and the female portraits. The hand-woven bookmark just makes this purchase all the more special.

Salman Rushdie's latest work.

Salman Rushdie's signature on the full title page.

Reading copies of Cormac McCarthy's work.


Cardinal sin! Breaks my heart.
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