Sunday, January 31, 2010
Matthew Zapruder is the author of two previous collections of poetry. His last The Pajamaist was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2006. CCP will also publish his next book, Come On All You Ghosts later this year. Zapruder's work has appeared in numerous publications, from The New Yorker to The Believer, and along with fellow poet Joshua Beckman runs the editorial side of Wave Books, one of the newer shining stars in the poetry publishing galaxy.
Zapruder on Merwin:
One thing that really blew me away when I first started reading Merwin was that he didn't use punctuation. It seemed so natural, unlike a lot of other stylistic things you notice with poets, like weird broken up spacing all over the page, the old lower case letters especially "i" trick, etc. This lack makes the poems feel kind of ghostly and disembodied:
For the Anniversary of My Death
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
There's an "I" in the poem of course, but it's more like a very attentive spirit, moving through various sorts of different concerns of being a human being, rather than a particular person.
Of course the real-life Merwin is a particular person. He lives in Hawaii, and is apparently an expert on palm trees. And one of our great living poets. I've never met him, and if you ask me how I feel about reading at this upcoming tribute with him, my answer would have to be, more than a bit superfluous. I have had my own relationship with his work for probably about 15 years now, and I'm grateful for that. I carry his sense of what a poem is deep within me, and it's had as much influence over what I think as anything else.
Merwin's poems are dedicated to the absolutely clear, unrelenting yet also compassionate delineation of the moments when we are truly awed by what we cannot know. It's what absolutely blasted me when I first started reading him, and which continues to. Total negative capability, emphasis on capable. It seems to me the essential urge to get close to that thing we can never know is central to the spirit of poetry. And Merwin's relentless gentle attitude of clear questioning is to me as close as you can get to what poetry is all about.
One of my favorite of his books is the 1996 volume The Vixen. In the book a speaker writes about her, that "Comet of stillness, princess of what is over/ high note held without trembling without voice without sound/ aura of complete darkness keeper of the kept secrets" The vixen is a sentient creature endowed with both a totally modern mind as well as deep old foresty knowledge, and so is the consciousness of the poems themselves. Reading them we feel physically brought up in ourselves the ancient pain we all have of being separated from the natural world, as well as our sin, of needing not just to see but actually to possess that gorgeous emblem of nature, the vixen.
How Merwin's poems avoid what Keats called the egotistical sublime -- the unpleasant tendency of not just Wordsworth (to whom he was referring) but of so many of our own contemporary poets of nature to pretend to be humbly praising nature, when what they are actually bringing forth for our awed approval is their own poetic sensitivity -- might be one of the great mysteries, and accomplishments, of 20th century poetry. I think it's connected to the sometimes icy, even occasionally terrifying absence of self familiar to any reader of Merwin. Yet somehow the poems are also really warm, sometimes funny, always full of human life. I have no idea how he does it.
Tickets for the event available here
Previously on Book Patrol:
W.S. Merwin & Friends: Four Poets Share the Stage and Their Thoughts
Ben Lerner on W.S. Merwin
Valzhyna Mort on W.S. Merwin
A New Wave of Political Poetry BP Post on the anthology of contemporary political poetry, State of the Union : 50 Political Poems, published by Wave Books in late 2008.
American Linden Zapruder's first book was published by Tupelo Press.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The company is called Out of Print and they are out to celebrate the "world’s great stories through fashion."
They've just released a new line of t-shirts emblazoned with iconic dust jacket art from the classics of yesteryear.
They come in at a hefty $28 a pop but they are done legitimately with the proper licensing fees going to the publisher's, artists and authors. Out of Print will also donate one book for every t-shirt they sell to Books For Africa. The first t-shirts will be ready to ship in mid February. They are launching with men's sizes only and hope to have the ladies covered shortly.
More at Cool Hunting
Friday, January 29, 2010
Valzhyna Mort hails from Belarus, a country carved out of the former Soviet Union. The Irish Times called her "A risen star of the international poetry world.” Her first book released in America Factory of Tears, published by Copper Canyon Press, is the first Belarusian/English poetry book to be published in the U.S. She has garnered an international reputation as an "electrifying reader of her poems."
Mort on Merwin:
W.S. Merwin’s name has traveled out, beyond itself, beyond American poetry. “I have no shadow but myself,” he wrote in “Lice” but he himself has given foreign poets a new kind of a shadow, an existence in the dimension of another language and culture. I had learned of W.S.Merwin long before I discovered American poetry. I took a side route to English language literature, via the familiar - I read translations of Russian poets into English, notably , who had been translated with exquisite linguistic clarity and grace, not a line without a perfect idiom, the ease and gravity of a voice born not in either language, but in the third space where a poem exists outside the words that verbalize it: “Now I’m dead in the grace with my lips moving / and every schoolboy repeating the words by heart”. The name that stood next to Mandelshtam's was W.S.Merwin. This name took me on a new detour, introducing me to Jean Follain, , Alberto Blanco, – poets to whom we come when we are in the mood to be destroyed.They have received a great gift from W.S. Merwin: they look back at their shadow and see, among shadows and demons, another poet there, an angel-like figure, sustaining their lives in another world.
Interview with Mort in the Irish Times
Up Next: Matthew Zapruder
Tickets for the event available here
Previously on Book Patrol:
W.S. Merwin & Friends: Four Poets Share the Stage and Their Thoughts
Ben Lerner on W.S. Merwin
Archaeologists in China have discovered a trove of rare bamboo-strip books uncovered within an excavated tomb in Yancang, a village near Jingmen in Hubei province.
Experts believe the site dates back to the Warring States Period (475 BC to 221 BC) and hope that the books will reveal the name of the entombed owner; it is possible that the strips contain a written introduction by the owner of the tomb, "like a letter of recommendation the deceased would carry with them to the underworld to give Yanluo, the god of death," Shen Haining, director of the provincial cultural heritage bureau, told China Daily.
"We cannot tell how many we've got and we have no idea what's written on them, but the discovery of bamboo strips itself is exciting," he continued.
Excavation of the tomb will be completed next week before any attempt is made to read the bamboo strips. "Sorting out those bamboo strips is like sorting out well-cooked noodles, you have to be really careful so as not to damage them."
The ancient Chinese believed Yanluo was not only the ruler but also the judge of the underworld; the deceased would bury with them an introduction letter detailing their good deeds and achievements during their life to guarantee a better afterlife.
Bamboo-strip books are the best materials to study the earliest Chinese manuscripts because the emperor, Qin Shihuang, ordered most documents to be destroyed after he united China in 221 BC.
The emperor ordered all books except those about the Qin dynasty's history and culture, divination and medicines to be burned.
"As the historical documents about the early part of China's history that have been passed down are very rare, bamboo strips today are very valuable," Shen said.
The discovery in 1993 of almost 800 bamboo strips dating back to the Warring States Period in a tomb in Hubei was a major find and international sensation: They contained the complete pre-Qin transcription of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, founder of the Taoist school of thought.
Bamboo-strip book images courtesy of Beijing Review.
(George C. Leighton for The Illustrated London News, Vol.56, 1870.)
The Huntington already had roughly 1,000 Dickens letters in its collection, which is about 1/15 of the writer's surviving correspondence. Yes, you read that right: approximately 15,000 letters written by Charles Dickens are known to survive today. And as astonishingly large as that number is, it pales in comparison to what he actually wrote. In 1860 Dickens made a bonfire out of a large portion of his correspondence, sparing only letters which were strictly business. His mistress, Ellen Ternan, did the same with the love letters Dickens sent to her. And all of the letters he wrote to his daughter Kate were also lost to fire in 1873.
The most comprehensive published collection of Dickens letters is a massive 12 volumes of at least 600 pages each. Which begs the question, how did he find the time to write 14 complete novels and half of a 15th, 5 Christmas-themed novellas, 4 collections of short stories, 5 non-fiction works, a collection of plays, and innumerable poems, speeches, articles, and short stories for magazines? (And, in case you're wondering, he died at age 58!)
Edgar Johnson said: "It was more than a reading; it was an extraordinary exhibition of acting ...without a single prop or bit of costume, by changes of voice, by gesture, by vocal expression, Dickens peopled his stage with a throng of characters." By the end of one American reading tour Dickens was too exhausted to eat, and was living on raw eggs, champagne and sherry.
Despite all of the demands on his time, Dickens never let his writing take a backseat. He told a friend nothing could stop his "invincible determination to work, and...profound conviction that nothing of worth is done without work." He even went so far as to credit hard work over talent in accounting for his success: "My own invention or imagination, such as it is . . . would never have served me as it has but for the habit of commonplace, humble, patient, daily, toiling, drudging attention." Dickens's unique combination of incredible energy and dogged determination somehow combined to create an astoundingly prolific and accomplished body of work.
Dictionary of British Literary Characters, Dickens created 989 named characters during his career.
Charles Dickens finally worked himself to death, insisting on giving yet another public reading at a Royal Academy banquet attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales. This despite having collapsed and suffered a stroke at a similar event the previous year. He died in June of 1870, less than a month after taking that final bow. Perhaps he knew he'd eventually burn himself out, in one of those 15,000+ letters he told a friend: "As to repose, for some men there's no such thing in this life."
Reclusive and litigious author J.D. Salinger, just hours after having been reported dead by the New York Times, appeared in ethereal form in New York Superior Court to file suit against the Times and a number of other major media outlets for the unauthorized reporting of his demise. Cornered in a men's room stall shortly thereafter, Mr. Salinger responded by sliding a written mimeographed statement under the door to waiting reporters, in which he stated:
"Reports of my death are MINE and MINE ALONE, and any unauthorized reporting of this alleged event will be considered an invasion of my privacy and a violation of my copyright, and will be subject to vigorous prosecution."
News of Mr. Salinger's written statement sent a tsunami of excitement through the literary world, representing as it does the author's first published work since 1965.
- By Howard Prouty at ReadInk, with our thanks for the heads-up.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Ben Lerner is the author of two collections of poetry The Lichtenberg Figures, which won the 2003 Hayden Carruth Award, and Angle of Yaw, which was finalist for the National Book Award. Both are published by Copper Canyon Press. His third book, Mean Free Path, also published by CCP, is due to be released any day now. Publishers Weekly pronounced that Lerner is "among the most promising young poets now writing."Lerner teaches in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh.
On February 4 poet Lerner will take part in the W.S. Merwin & Friends reading to benefit Copper Canyon Press. In celebration of the event Book Patrol has asked each of the poets reading with Merwin to ruminate a bit on Merwin and to share their thoughts.
In the early sixties, W.S. Merwin shifted from a virtuosic deployment of traditional forms (the roundels, ballads, sonnets of A Mask for Janus) to singular, unpunctuated lyrics that almost hover above the page, that capture the tremble, the tremor, even the timbre of the voice. Merwin never altogether abandons the pleasures and challenges of traditional forms, but reading him book to book I began to see the advent of felt silences and spoken rhythms and fragmentation in his work, to watch what he called the “rational protocol of written language” breaking up under the pressures of the utterance. The power of his fluid and plainspoken recent collections derives in part from the sense that this directness has been wrested from the silence, that he has restored his sentences word by word: “it is the late poems / that are made of words / that have come the whole way / they have been there.” Even more than any particular poem, more than any particular volume, what I admire in Merwin is his formal restlessness, the beautiful movement not only within but also across his magnificent books.
Here's an interview with Lerner at Jacket Magazine. It was conducted soon after his first book was published.
Previously on Book Patrol:
W.S. Merwin & Friends: Four Poets Share the Stage and Their Thoughts
The Chinese character for poetry. Comprised of two parts: word and temple.
To celebrate the event Book Patrol has asked each of the younger poets to share a Merwin experience; whether it be his influence, a favorite poem or a first encounter, we left it pretty open.
For the next four days we will feature one of their responses.
If your in the region: Tickets are $15, $10 for students. For $100 donation you get to hang out with everybody before the reading. They will all be signing books after the reading and Cooper Canyon has produced a letterpress broadside printed by Urban Editions in honor of the event which will also be available.
Must listen: KUOW's Weekday will have Merwin on for an hour-long interview with call-ins on the morning of the 4th.
For now, we leave you with 'Far Along in the Story,' a poem by W.S. Merwin
The boy walked on with a flock of cranes
following him calling as they came
from the horizon behind him
sometimes he thought he could recognize
a voice in all that calling but he
could not hear what they were calling
and when he looked back he could not tell
one of them from another in their
rising and falling but he went on
trying to remember something in
their calls until he stumbled and came
to himself with the day before him
wide open and the stones of the path
lying still and each tree in its own leaves
the cranes were gone from the sky and at
that moment he remembered who he was
only he had forgotten his name
W.S. Merwin books at Copper Canyon.
Jay Parini's piece in the Guardian, Why W.S. Merwin deserves his second Pulitzer prize, April, 2009.
Thomas Edison, beyond his inventions, was the Steve Jobs of his time. He developed innovative consumer applications from contemporary technology and materials and was a master at marketing them. People marveled at his wonders that made day-to-day living easier and more convenient, and hung on every word he had to say about technology and great, game-changing gadgets newly arrived and to come from his factories.
Forget the Kindle or Apple's new iPad. The "e" in ebook stands for Edison.
In the February 1911 issue of The Cosmopolitan (yes, that Cosmopolitan - long before it was Helen Gurley-Brown'ed into Cosmo) the Wizard of Menlo Park shared with journalist and Socialist propagandist, Allan L. Benson, his vision of the future, the possibilities of steel and what it held in store (and storage) for books:
"Steel, he says, is soon destined to fall from its high pinnacle as the skeleton of skyscrapers... Book covers may also be made of steel. Even the pages of books may be made of steel, though Edison regards nickel as a better substitute for paper…The imagination is not much taxed by the suggestion of skyscrapers made without steel; but nickel books, bound in steel -
"'Why not?' asks Edison. 'Nickel will absorb printer’s ink. A sheet of nickel one twenty-thousandth of an inch thick is cheaper, tougher, and more flexible than an ordinary sheet of book-paper. A nickel book, two inches thick, would contain 40,000 pages. Such a book would weigh only a pound. I can make a pound of nickel sheets for a dollar and a quarter.'
"'Here, also, is a prospect of real culture for the masses. Forty thousand pages in a volume! A single volume the equivalent in printing space of two hundred paper-leaved books of two hundred pages each! What a library might be placed between two steel covers and sold for, perhaps, two dollars for the price of one book!!'
"Here, at last, is comfort for the librarians who are crying out against the commercialism that produces paper so poor that most of the volumes printed today seem likely to crumble to dust within a hundred years. Here, also, is the prospect of real culture for the masses. Forty thousand pafes in a volume! A single volume the equivalent in printing space of two hundred pages each! What a library might be placed between two steel covers and sold for, perhaps, two dollars! History, science, fiction, poetry - everything. Indestructible except through fire or abuse.. Beautiful, because the steel covers could be stained in perfect imitation of the finest leathers. Two hundred books for the price of one book! I had understood Edison to say that he was already making, of another purpose, the thin nickel sheets of which he spoke. That seemed to place the nickel book within the range of present possibilities."
There is virtually no evidence that Thomas Edison ever followed up on this idea. He probably thought it through and realized that it would be impractical and cause injury: Imagine flipping through a steel-covered book with leaves of nickel to page 14,237. Next, visualize the bloody mess now passing for the tip of your thumb or index finger. Then consider, as with the compact edition of the O.E.D., that you'll require a high-power magnifying glass to read the print.
Now, using your sense-memory, imagine the aroma of a real, genuine steel, faux-leather binding.
Later, get out the naval jelly to dress the book and prevent rust and corrosion; if the steel can be stained to look like leather, it's not stainless steel.
It's not, however, all bad. A one-pound, two-inch thick all-metal book is well-nigh indestructible. Drop it from the roof of a building and it may dent but remain functional. Try that with a Kindle or iPad.
Book reviewers are often compelled to read and write about rotten volumes. As Dorothy Parker once wrote, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
If an Edison all-metal, 40,000 page, one-pound book is hurled in your direction, 'best be wearing a suit of armor.
Lead and image from the Technologizer via LISNews.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
When I have trouble falling asleep, I count animals marching into Noah’s ark. After three hours, I still have beasts to account for, long after sheep have schelepped into the cargo hold.
I have no idea what Athanasius Kircher, the 17th century polymath, did when he needed to inspire the sandman; it appears that he was kept up all night speculating about everything concerning Noah.
Arca Noe was and remains the most detailed account of Noah and his ark from that period in scientific inquiry, an era when rationalism was struggling to assert itself over superstition, the illogical, and incredible.
Men like Kircher, a Jesuit who was the webmaster for Europe’s network of scientific scholars, collecting and disseminating their work, endeavored to bring order, clarity and discipline to the study of the natural world. But they remained tied to the world they were born into and, particularly if you were a Jesuit priest, tried vainly to square religious belief with what they were observing in the natural world.
The story of Noah and the ark provided Kircher with a huge framework within which he could study nature, its creatures and flora, as well as engineering. The pursuit of science in this manner endowed it with “sacred purpose.” The ark had been designed by God; a perfect, then, design. Kircher was also an obsessive collector of natural world curiosities, establishing a celebrated museum for such in Rome; Noah’s ark held the ultimate collection, and Kircher made it his mission to recover the lost “divine” science of Noah and display it in his museum.
“For Kircher the authority of the Ark as a blueprint derives from its divine origin: unlike other memorable creations of the ancient world... the Ark was designed by God. Since God was the architect, the design embodies the divine laws of symmetry and proportion, qualities the Ark shares with the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon. But God also made man, and in his own image. Thus the proportions of man are reflected in the Ark. The length of 300 cubits to the width of 50, for example, is in the same proportion as the height of a well-proportioned man to his width...
Note that scientific inquiry at this time still embraced spontaneous generation as a viable theory of reproduction, as well as other strange (to the modern mind) ideas. Kircher, trying so hard to be precise in his observations and rational in his conclusions, still thought certain stones held power.
Arca Noe lies with its elaborate and detailed engraved plates depicting the design of the ark, and the consequences of the flood. They are magnificent.
BENNETT, Jim and Scott Mandelbrote. The Garden, The Ark, The Tower, The Temple. Bodleian Library, 1998.
FINDLEN, Paula. The Last Man Who Knew Everything (Routledge, 2004).
MERRILL, Brian L. Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680), Jesuit Scholar. Brigham Young University Library, 1989.
KIRCHER, Athanasius. Arca Noë, In Tres Libros Digesta, Quorum I. De rebus quae ante Diluvium, II. De iis, quae ipso Diluvio eiusque duratione, III. De iis, quae post Diluvium a Noemo gesta sunt, Quae omnia nova Methodo, Nec Non Summa Argumentorum varietate, explicantur, & demonstrantur. Amsterdam: Johannes Janssonius van Waesberge, 1675.
First and only edition. Folio (14 x 9 1/8 in; 355 x 232 mm). *, **, A4 - Z4, Aa4 - Gg4, Hh4 - Ii4 (Index + list of Kircher's Works); , 240, . pp. Engraved title-page, engraved portrait of the dedicatee Charles ll, 2 maps (1 double-page), topographic plan (double-page), large folding plate of the ark, 10 double-page plates, 4 full-page plates, 2 small plates, 9 engraved text cuts, & 102 text woodcuts. 5 tables, tailpieces, decorated initials. Complete.
STCN 167502. Dunnhaupt 2346:29. Merrill 26. Adelung III, 379. Caillet, ll, 360.5768. Graesse IV,20. Nissen, Z 2195. De Backer I, 430.26. Sommervogel, IV, 1068-69.33. BMCC CXXIII,711. Bennett /Mandelbrote 37. Mustain/Hinman 157. Brunet, lll, 666.
Images courtesy of David Brass.
The Netherlands, Utrecht, ca. 1440
(Images courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern.)
Fast forward to 1957, when the Duke's copy of what passes for The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is sold to a New York book dealer, who in turn sells it to a private collector. Then in 1963, the Rothschild copy of what they claim is The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is puchased by the Morgan Library. Morgan curator John Plummer finally uncovers Techener's century-old ruse: examining the Morgan's manuscript and the volume on loan from the private collector, he concludes they are two halves of the same book. Finally in 1970, the Morgan purchases the copy in private hands. Now both halves of the masterpiece could be reunited. But the only way to restore the proper order of the pages was to cut apart Techener's amateurish rebindings--which by this time were causing actual damage to the pages--and painstakingly determine the correct sequence. This the Morgan Library has done, and the result is an exhibit of the unbound pages, Demons And Devotions: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, first shown in a Dutch museum, and now on display at the Morgan's New York City home.
The back-story of the book itself is matched by the intriguing story of its original owner. Catherine of Cleves (1417-1476) married Arnold, Duke of Egmond (1410-1473) in 1430. To say the marriage was unhappy would be a massive understatement. In a real-life version of The War of The Roses, the Duke grew so disenchanted with the Duchess that he disinherited her, along with their six children. (According to the royal rumor mill, the couple's only son, Adolf, had discovered his father was homosexual.) Catherine became determined to make her son the Duke of Egmond, and a six-year-long civil war erupted. Catherine and son Adolf imprisoned Arnold and forced his abdication in 1465. But Arnold's supporters freed him in 1471, and the tables were turned: the father imprisoned his son, and exiled his wife. In 1473 Arnold died, but still left his son languishing in prison. Arnold had illegally sold his Dukedom to his ally, Charles The Bold of Burgundy, thus ensuring Catherine and her children were left with nothing. Catherine herself died in exile in 1476 before she could see her son set free. Finally freed in 1477, Adolf died within the year.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
As I walked out on Laredo one day
I spied an old book shop all shuttered and closed down
Shuttered and closed down all night and all day.
I see by this closing that books have lost out here
That Barnes and pal Noble were the last to shut down
A sad state here that folks here now have a new dark fear
That books old and new have vamoosed from this town.
The 2-50-times-thousand who call this place our land
Are concerned that they’ll all look like dumb ignorant hicks
Thought just poor, Mex'can migrants, who crossed the Rio, hope grand,
To find better life in the hot Texas sticks.
That's not true, says the city's chief spokeswoman,
Xochitl Mora, who spearheads a "Laredo Reads" scheme
The people who breed here do read here, says the comely folks-yeoman,
But big business suits who sell books just don’t get what I mean.
The ol’ H.E.B. Grocery is what passes for book mart
(Is it possible, dare I ask it, that the owner is Heeb?)
Book signings occur near the Fritos and cook's cart
Right next to the produce and fine fresh-kill grebe.
Border town without Borders needs a bookslinger in saddle
Some dude (or dude-ess) who has books on the brain
Someone with moxie (from Biloxi?) who does not easily rattle
To start indie shop, own the book trade, and make it domain.
Fat chance, say the wise-men who know all the skinny
You’ll never compete with Net prices, oh no
Start this biz up, it dies, and you’re really a ninny
There’ll be a chorus of many to say, told you so.
But this burg in a county with mere 48% base lit skill
Still has 52% on the rolls who can and do read
They want culture that books bring to pedigree-need ville
They’re tired of cracks re: hayseed who can live sans book-feed.
They fear kids here with no books dear will not reach the mind's frontier
They'll soon lack the gumption to git up and go
So, desperate and anxious, they yearn for some book cheer
A hard-covered savior, tomes in large portmanteau.
Saddle up! Saddle up! And beat the drum slowly
As you dare the trade in this book-forlorn town
Play the dead march as you sell used books so lowly
Yet welcome here whether up or downtown.
And they beat, and they beat, and they beat the drums slowly, situation unholy
Events have conspired through no fault of their own
Beyond comprehension big-town papes nary mention
A big city without book stores is a city alone.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Skirts In Dust Jackets: Indie Women, Wayward Wives, Soiled Damsels, Sassy Lassies, and Hard-Boiled Dames
"She defied life's Conventions in her search for THRILLS!"
4th printing, first with ths title and dust jacket.
The story of a dope-dealing prostitute who has an
affair with a black pimp/bootlegger. A novel reportedly
with many autobiographical elements.
Air Derby.Farrar & Rinehart, 1935. Novelization of the actual 1929
race from Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH, a watershed event
in women's aviation. Amelia Earhart and Pancho Barnes were
among the twenty competitors; Earhart placed third.
Reality punched-up with "dogfights in the air
and catfights on the ground," plus a love story.
ReadInk Books, Skirts, In Jackets: a couple of hundred books By - About - For (and sometimes Against) WOMEN!
Boni and Liveright, 1928. "A Story of Life in Women's Colleges."
In 1933, Adams' short story, Night Bus, was adapted for the
screen and won 1934's Best-Picture Oscar®
under the title, It Happened One Night.
Grosset & Dunlap, 1932.
Keller, H.A. Yesterday's Sin. Macaulay, 1934.
"What would be the fate of a young and beautiful woman,
brought up among Nudists all her life, in a world
of conventional dress and exclusive society?"
ReadInk’s proprietor, Howard Prouty, modestly asserts that he had no grand scheme in mind when putting the catalog together, declaring within that “there’s no message here that’s any more profound than ‘hey...look at this! Cool, huh?’”
Christopher Publishing, 1930. A dissenting view on the emergence
of women and their power into a man's world.
Devanny, Jean. Out of Such Fires. Macaulay, 1934.
"The vilest woman character that any author has yet conceived
- a walking exhibition of neurotic bestiality."
What you begin to realize after scanning its pages is that Prouty is either being faux-naive or very canny. He, like so many current rare book dealers trying to make a full-time go of it, has a day job. He is an archivist at an institutional library.
Discusses "the appalling number of women over forty.
Some are simply at a loss what to do with themselves
when children need them no longer. Others are
distraught, panicky, morbid and desperate."
Sample chapter title: "Modern Nerves."
And so, we are presented with Flappermania!; Notorious Ladies; Glamour Girls; Girls at School; Women at Work; Bad Girls and Wild Women; Grand Dames of Mystery; WWII - Women on the Home Front; ...and in Uniform; Ladies of the Big Apple; Marriage: the Solution or the Problem; How to Be an Even Better Woman; What Mad Pursuits, Indeed? Adventuresses; Women Gettin’ It Done!; Fascinating and Formidable Females; etc.
Visitor, 1938. Advice to a young lady in the workplace on how to
be "mindful of her dignity, of her good name, of her self-respect,
of her obligations to God, to her own soul and to her fellows."
The authoress scorns married women who work: "These
become defrauders of husbands' and children's right and
thieves of the jobs of single women who have no
one to give them economic support."
Stark, Mabel, with Gertrude Orr. Hold That Tiger. Caxton Printers, 1938.
One of the world's most famous Big Cat trainers (along with May Kovar),
Stark began her circus career in 1912. Quite attractive, she was mauled
many times during her lifetime by animals, sometimes by her cats.
Jordan, Gail (pseud. of Peggy Gaddis). Part Time Passion. Phoenix Press,
1940. "Karen Montgomery believed in equal rights
for women - and that meant not only competing
with men on an equal footing but also taking her
loves as they came and throwing them off as lightly."
The overwhelming number of the volumes described and offered were published c. 1911-1950. What is revealed through these 212 books is the emergence onto the American stage - sometimes with sharp elbows to reach the footlights - of the modern woman, her hopes, frustrations, dreams, fantasies, and aims toward self-realization and independence, written, for the most part, by women for women.
As a collection, these books trace the evolution of American feminism in the first half of the 20th century through popular literature, a period that sometimes gets lost between the women’s suffrage movement of the late 19th century and the Women’s Lib movement of the late 1960s. The story of women struggling toward equality during this period is rich and colorful, culminating with the entry of women into the armed services and workforce during World War II. Then, after the war, it ground to a halt, the movement going into hibernation as women returned to traditional roles, often reluctantly, in the post-war years of the 1950s. It then screamed to reawakening in the Sixties.
ReadInk Books, now celebrating its twelfth year in business, has carved out a cozy niche in the rare book universe, one that I believe has upside potential going into an uncertain rare book future. Billing itself on its website as Books for the Obsessive or Merely Curious - a compelling tease - in this catalog Prouty keeps it simple: Forgotten Books, Remembered.
ReadInk is - and this is no small thing - developing itself into a brand with an engaging, individualistic personality. This is otherwise known as Marketing 101. With an interesting website to back it up (including an Oddities and Obsessions page reflecting Prouty’s personal book-related interests), ReadInk Books with this, its second print catalog, nicely produced, is an up-and-comer long in the making worth keeping an eye on.
Originally published c. 1928, the story of a girl who substitutes herself
for her WWI Yank brother so he can go AWOL to tryst
with his fiancee. But "unexpected sailing orders were received
and away she went with his regiment to France." It is unclear
whether she's taking her uniform off or putting it on.
A million men want to know.
No swingin' on this wartime shift, "anyone who has wondered
what it means to do 'unskilled repetitive labor,'
to give up movies, dances, and everything once
considered the joy of life, will find a true
and moving answer in this book."
Dodd, Mead, 1943. Jacobs was a major tennis star, winning
many U.S. championships. She was ranked #1 in the world in 1936.
Gerken, Mable R. Ladies in Pants. Exposistion Press, 1949.
The title refers to working women, not the sapphic set.
Farrar & Rinehart, 1935. Fascinating womanhood! Harrison, a widow
and single mother at age 36, was compelled to embark on a career
as a journalist. Beginning with society news, she soon rose to cover
hard news, was a spy for U.S. Military intelligence during WWI, and
subsequently spied for the U.S. in Russia and Japan.
More to the point, the books are not expensive to collect. Most are priced below $250, many under $100. Books priced under $500 is the area that I believe holds the greatest potential for the rare book trade as elite collectors of “big books” continue to dwindle to a few while average, working-stiff, budding collectors look for an entryway into a hobby too often perceived as too rich for their blood. I have a very strong belief that populism will be ascendant, in collectors, the volumes they collect, and cost; there is a large number of people with a latent or active desire to collect but have been shy due to the expense.
Good, fascinating rare books at an affordable price. What a concept.