26 December, 2015

Loot of the Week 26 Dec 2015


My Christmas present, from myself, arrived today, just in time for unwrapping on a Boxing Day. It is an interesting mix of winners of Pulitzer, National Book Award, and National Book Critics' Circle Award bought at a bargain.

The first trade edition of William Faulkner's The Reivers was published by Random House in 1961 and won the 1962 Pulitzer for fiction. It was Faulkner's second Pulitzer - he won the first in 1955 with A Fable - that earned him the honor of most Pulitzer Fiction prizes won by a single author along with Booth Tarkington, a literary giant in early 20th century with The Magnificent Ambersons in 1919 and Alice Adams in 1922, and John Updike, the erudite and productive author with the last two of his Rabbit tetralogy: Rabbit is Rich in 1982 and Rabbit at Rest in 1991. No author had won the Pulitzer Fiction prize more than twice. Interesting this book is also only one of three posthumous Pulitzer Fiction winners, the others being James Agee's A Death in the Family in 1958 and John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces in 1981. There is a 500-copy signed limited first edition of The Reivers that is very sought after.

Thornton Wilder's The Eighth Day, his sole National Book Award winner in 1968. This is the signed limited first edition, copy 499 of 500, issued in slipcase and plastic jacket. Thornton Wilder is a literary master whose fame had faltered in recent decades. He received nominations for the Nobel Literature prize for seven years, beginning from 1929 following the publication of his masterpiece, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which won the Pulitzer in 1927, but failed to win the Nobel Committee's green light. Contrast this with William Faulkner, who won on his first and single nomination, thus elevating him from relative obscurity to literary renown whose fame and literary influence today ranked alongside Hemingway and Fitzgerald. On this regret, I guess, paraphrasing Wilder, there is a land of the winner and a land of the forgotten and the bridge is Nobel. Then again, Fitzgerald never won the Nobel either, so perhaps, one day, Wilder's work will see a revival.

Finally there is Shirley Hazzard's The Transit of Venus, a National Book Critics' Circle Award winner in 1980. She would go on to win the 2003 National Book Award with The Great Fire.

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