Book Shelves #13, 3.25.2012

Books, Literature, Writers

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Book shelves series #13, thirteenth Sunday of 2012: Four by the late great Russell Hoban. A few Philip K. Dick volumes, although it’s worth pointing out that most of the good stuff I’ve owned by him has been loaned out and never returned and/or exists in ratty coverless mass market editions. PK Dick transitions to William Burroughs to JG Ballard (another writer who I used to own other books by before they were dispersed . . .). Martin Bax’s The Hospital Ship is a thoroughly obscure volume in a Ballardian/Burroughsian vein; it deserves a reprint. Gardner, Brodkey, Gass, Kosinski. I’ve owned Raymond Carver’s Cathedral since high school, or maybe freshman year of college. It’s all the Carver that any library needs. Lish comma Gordon. Two by Malcolm Lowry. Two by Barry Hannah. Four from Sam Lipsyte.

The Carver and Kosinski volumes are part of the 1980s Vintage Contemporaries line that all feature awful, hyper-literal covers. I have about a dozen such volumes and I’m planning a piece on them in the future. Observe:

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7 thoughts on “Book Shelves #13, 3.25.2012

  1. I would say that this bookshelf represents a degree mediocrity I have hitherto suspected in you, but not noticed due to highly evasive skills.

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    1. Your comment makes no sense. What do you mean by “highly evasive skills”? Can you cite something in particular? How does a bookshelf indicate a degree of mediocrity? If you want to insult me, take the time to back up your claim with something substantial.

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  2. You’re right about the older Vintage paperback covers, yikes! Although that’s a nice looking McMullan illo there … do remember that sometimes cover art is sometimes art-directed or marketing-directed into pablum …

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    1. Mahendra, to be clear, I *love* the Vintage covers (I was thrilled a few weeks ago to find a first ed. VC series of Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree). And I know you’re right, that book covers are about marketing, etc.

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      1. I also have that Suttree … in mothballed storage 600 miles away. Never cared for Suttree though … it’s funny but the older I get, the less I care for McCarthy. Might make a good Biblioklept essay, how certain authors don’t age well …

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  3. Please write about the 80s vintage paperbacks! Since I discovered their existence, I’ve purchased the Brodkey, a handful of DeLillo, the Suttree, Bright Lights Big City and Story of My Life, and my personal favorite (cover, not book), Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter. I wouldn’t purchase something I totally wouldn’t read in that kind of cover…but if a book is on the borderline, like say, the copy of Story of My Life, I’ll just say, fuck it, and get it for that cover type.

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