31 March, 2017

Loot of the week 01 April 2017


This was a bountiful week of prize winners. Michael Chabon is an important contemporary writer, and I was on the hunt for a selection of his signed work. This is unconventional for me because I typically avoid buying signed first edition whose provenance cannot be readily proven. In this case, these signed titles are still reasonably priced at the level of unsigned first edition, so I'm buying them as sort of a bet with very little downside.

We have Chabon's Pulitzer-winning work, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", that was flat signed by Chabon with an additional key symbol, alluding to the "League of the Golden Key" in the book. The book, which the Pulitzer jury described as "brilliantly conceived and passionately rendered", won the Pulitzer prize in 2001, beating Joyce Carol Oates' "Blonde" and Joy Williams' "The Quick and the Dead". It is still considered Chabon's magnum opus today. Then we have "The Yiddish Policemen's Union", an alternate-history detective story that won, amongst others, the Hugo and Nebula awards. This book is also signed.

Next up are two National Book Award winners. The first is James Jones' "From Here to Eternity", the war novel that he is most commonly known for. I already have a better copy of the first edition, but this is one of the unknown number (rumored 1,500) of presentation copies with an additional tipped-in signature page. It won the 1952 NBA that had, in its finalists, contemporary classics like JD Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny", William Faulkner's "Requiem of a Nun", Truman Capote's "The Grass Harp", and William Styron's "Lie Down in Darkness". Next, we have Ellen Gilchrist's "Victory over Japan", a collection of short stories that won the NBA in 1984 over Alison Lurie's "Foreign Affairs" and Philip Roth's "The Anatomy Lesson". I have another copy of this first edition but its dust jacket was second state with the NBA mentioned. This new copy, has the first state dust jacket. Interestingly, it is also the only copy in this week's loot that is not signed.

Next up, Herman Wouk's 1952 Pulitzer prize winner, "The Caine Mutiny". I got this book on the cheap, and its dust jacket, while fragile, had remarkably no repair or close tear. The previous owner must have taken great care of this book. Along with the book is a signed note from Wouk stating that the first edition of this book, with an alleged printing size of 22,500 copies, is hard to come by. Unfortunately, beautiful as the dust jacket may be, it is not the elusive first state one with "The City Boy" stated at the back. This is the standard second state dust jacket with "City Boy". Nevertheless, it is still a great buy, especially with Wouk's short ALS.

Lastly, we have a signed copy of DBC Pierre's debut novel, "Vernon God Little", that won a number of awards, including the 2003 Booker prize. Pierre has had an intriguing living experience to say the least, and perhaps a part of that was transferred into this book that was described as coruscating, and its protagonist, Vernon Little, variously compared to Holden Caulfield and Huckleberry Finn.

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