Loot of the Week 03 Sep 2016
This week's loot comprises two great prize winners. On the right is the first printing of Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News", published in 1993 by Scribner, that won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. In the former, it beat Reynolds Price's Collected Stories and Philip Roth's "Operation Shylock", and in the latter, Amy Bloom's Come to Me", Thom Jones' "The Pugilist at Rest", Richard Powers' "Operation Wandering Soul", and Bob Shacochis' "Swimming in the Volcano". Proulx is probably more well known for her short story "Brokeback Mountain" that was adapted into an Ang Lee's movie. The story is collected in "Close Range - Wyoming Stories", a Pulitzer finalist.
The next is a first printing copy of John Kennedy Toole's posthumous work, "A Confederacy of Dunces", published by Louisiana State University Press in 1980, 11 years after Toole took his own life. Toole began writing the book during his time in military service and completed it in 1964, but found no success in getting it published. He took his own life in 1969, and Thelma, his mother, would spend the next few years urging various publishers to consider publishing the book, again to no success. The big break came when she approached Walker Percy to read the manuscript. Percy finally relented, and was so impressed that he lobbied for the book's publication. It would take three years before LSU Press did, with a small first printing size of 2,500 copies. The book went on to win the Pulitzer, beating William Maxwell's "So Long, See You Tomorrow" and Frederick Buechner's "Godric". The book title was taken from an epigram in Jonathan Swift's essay, "Thoughts on Various Subject, Moral and Diverting", that says: When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.