This original oil painting of Tor House by Australian artist Kenneth Jack, c. 1969, goes to auction next week at PBA Galleries in San Francisco. The painting is signed, and a note card glued to the verso is signed and inscribed to the artist's friend Marlan Beilke in California, who specifically requested a portrait of the famous poet's house. It's a fine oil on board, ably executed, with literary associations -- certainly tempting for any Jeffers collector out there. The estimate is $2,000-3,000.
In an attempt at clarification (or rationalization), a company blog post notes that this new edition is packaged under the "Modern Classics" imprint, and its design should be more mature (as opposed to the whimsical children's editions that feature the illustrations of Quentin Blake). "This new image for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl's writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life, ready for Charlie's debut amongst the adult titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series."
Penguin releases the new edition on September 4. For a view of the various covers used for the perennially popular novel over the past fifty years, check out the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Facebook page. You can even vote for your favorite through Sept. 15.
Image via Penguin.
English: American cook, author, and television personality (August 15, 1912 - August 13, 2004). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in 1961 and brought about a sea change in American cuisine. The hefty 761-page tome is filled with over five hundred classic French recipes of varying degrees of complexity. To render these meals accessible to the average American home cook, Child took great care to painstakingly explain each step so that anyone willing to follow the directions could replicate a gourmet meal. Child knew firsthand that through endless practice and relentless attention to detail one could master the epitome of grand cuisine. Indeed, reading through the book reveals an author devoted to sharing best practices and takes care not to speak down to her readers, writing with a passion that ensured her everlasting popularity. Tastes have changed in forty years, and some dishes (aspics, perhaps?) may have fallen out of style, but Mastering remains a wonderful kitchen resource for basic knife techniques, identifying cuts of meat and providing measurement equivalents. I find her charts for timing for hard-boiled eggs and pan-fried steaks never fail.
After the success of Mastering, Child continued to write, and published nineteen books on cooking and baking throughout the rest of her career. There were also thirteen television series, starting in 1963 with The French Chef, for which she received a Peabody Award in 1965. TV Guide even named her one of television's greatest stars to ever grace the small screen.
The kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Child prepared countless meals is as iconic as the woman herself. Husband Paul Child had specifically designed the countertops to accommodate his wife's impressive six-foot two inch frame. When she moved to California in 2001, Child donated the kitchen to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Child considered kitchens to be the "beating heart and social center of the household," and in hers sought to enlighten our palates while taming Americans' fear of butter and cream. As she said in a 1990 interview with The New York Times, "We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life."
How did you get started in rare books?
While I was in the poetry MFA program at Columbia University, I got a job assisting the Rare Books Librarian at the New York Society Library. They were in the middle of a post-retrospective conversion project, and my job was to compare the card catalog to the MARC record; if there were discrepancies, I pulled the book to verify the information. I have to admit that I disappeared into closed stacks more often than was necessary to do my job. Although I had worked in libraries before (my undergraduate library, Poets House), the work I did for the NYSL really illuminated the history of library work and the value of cataloging. I felt that I was connecting people to books in a tangible way, that I was helping to give people the experience of discovery.
Where did you earn your MLS/advanced degree?
I enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh's MLIS program with the goal of becoming a library cataloger, preferably in a rare books collection. There were no rare books-specific courses, though, so I took on internships and volunteered anywhere that would take me to get experience. When I graduated in 2008, there were barely any jobs, and funding for positions was being cut everywhere. I was lucky to land an archival cataloging position with the Time Capsules Cataloging Project at the Andy Warhol Museum, where I got a crash course in archival processing. I had no experience in museums or archives before that job, but I think my work with rare books translated well to working with art and artifacts. I think all of these experiences gave me a really good special collections education.
What is your role at your institution?
I am the processing archivist in the Poetry Collection, the library of record for 20th- and 21st-century poetry in English. The collection was founded in 1937, but I am the first full-time archivist, so there is a lot of backlog!
Favorite rare book / ephemera that you've handled?
Drafts of Paterson that William Carlos Williams wrote on his prescription pads. Williams was one of the first poets I loved, and I remember learning in high school that he was a doctor and would sneak in his writing between patients. To hold those fragments, to see the everyday reality of a figure that holds a mythological place in literature--that makes for a pretty good day at work.
What do you personally collect?
I collect books about botany. Of course, the visual component is a draw, but I am really fascinated by the development of botanical classification as well as the history of the use of plants in medicine and everyday life. After checking it out of the library three times, I finally bought Anna Pavord's The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants.
What excites you about rare book librarianship?
In an age when information can be rendered in the most convenient format--a newspaper on your phone, a paperback on your e-reader--rare books and archives let you stop and look. They give you a break, a chance to see what is in front of you. And they connect you to your own history, as a writer or a doctor or just as a human. You cannot help but think about the person who made the book, the person who wrote the letter. I like pulling out rare books and manuscript material because I watch people go from awe to intimacy. They will ask, "Can I touch it?" And when they pick it up and look at it, you can tell they are thinking about other people who have held it, and how it came to be in their hands. I think rare books librarians and archivists connect people to each other in that way.
Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship?
I think special collections are inherently interdisciplinary; even a collection with the narrowest collecting policy will appeal to interest outside the scope. To continue to broaden our relevance, we have to explore our capacity to serve unexpected needs and to inspire new inquiry. As a processing archivist, I think I do this by creating rich documentation for collections so that people can find our materials through multiple access points. In addition to traditional exhibitions and outreach, I think good cataloging and sharing of resources will be the best way to bring our collections to new users.
Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you'd like to draw our attention to?
The Poetry Collection prides itself on its inclusivity, and it represents a broad range of poetry. I am currently working on our Victor E. Reichert Robert Frost Collection, recently donated by Victor's son Jonathan. Victor Reichert and Robert Frost were close friends, and this material provides a really great personal view of Frost. The first collection I processed here was the Harry Jacobus Collection: Jacobus and Robert Duncan and Duncan's partner Jess started the King Ubu Gallery in San Francisco, which later became the legendary Six Gallery. We have a great variety of collections here, from James Joyce to Mail Art.
Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?
We have loaned artwork and visual poetry to Art=Text=Art, opening at University at Buffalo's Anderson Gallery in September. We also loan items for exhibition around the world: Materials from our Dylan Thomas Collection are currently on display at the National Library of Wales and the Dylan Thomas Centre as part of a yearlong centennial celebration of Thomas; they will return for exhibition at UB next year. Some of our Robert Duncan and Jess artwork is on loan for the traveling exhibition "An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle," which started at The Crocker Art Museum, traveled to New York University's Grey Art Gallery and American University, and will move on to the Pasadena Museum of California Art in September.
by Megan Bell, First-Year
If bookselling is an extreme sport, as the venerable Messrs. Rob Rulon-Miller and Lorne Bair rousingly declared the first morning, the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS) is certainly high-altitude learning. In fact, I would and will go as far as to say it's as extreme as Quidditch and CABS is a classroom overlooking the Pitch.
Through our adolescence and into adulthood, we queued up, dressed in costume, sipped "Butterbeer" from paper cups, and spent hours counting down the minutes to midnight and a new Harry Potter book in our hands. The key idea here is the memory of finally having that book in hand, and that memory is imbued with feelings of excitement and joy and community. Though many of us have gone on to embrace the digitization trend, toting e-readers instead of books around in our bags and backpacks, our love of books began with a physical book, wrapped like a Christmas present in a beautiful dust jacket with illustrations by Mary GrandPré. In comparison to contemporary children's and young adult books, these were fine bindings. The CABS faculty spoke to the sensual nature of books, how books are visual and tangible, of course, but also delightful to smell, and it is distinctly lovely to hear the susurration of page on page. This generation has sense memories of the entire Harry Potter series, and though it was the text that drove us en masse to these release events, we were indoctrinated early with a pleasure in seeing, touching, smelling, and hearing physical books (never tasting, I promise).
Furthermore, Rowling constantly points to the importance of books throughout the series, starting in the first book, where Harry, Hermione, and Ron must conduct serious research in the Hogwarts library to find the identity of Nicholas Flamel, and many events hinge on Hermione's encyclopedic knowledge of Bathilda Bagshot's classic Hogwarts: A History. The series admirably examines the vast landscape of the physical book, from required reading textbooks to Gilderoy Lockhart's mass market titles, from the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts library to Diagon Alley's independent brick-and-mortar Flourish and Blotts. The original handwritten manuscript of Hogwarts: A History is even contained in the Restricted Section and available by appointment only. Throughout the series, the characters must depend on and contend with books, and Hermione's bibliophilia serves them well.
TL;DR: As the explosively successful films and the now multinational "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attractions attest, the people at Warner Bros. and Universal Studios very smartly recognize and continue to capitalize on the Harry Potter generation, and the book trade would be wise to not discount them.
That said, the CABS experience was for me as full of pure magic as my first reading, at the tender age of eight, of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, from the august and brilliant faculty, full of gravitas and kindness, to the student body, a more enthusiastic bunch has never been witnessed, I'm certain. If you want to learn from the best, from people like Lorne Bair of Lorne Bair Rare Books, Rob Rulon-Miller of Rulon-Miller Books, Terry Belanger (Order of Merlin, First Class) of the University of Virginia and Rare Book School, Sally Burdon of Asia Bookroom, Brian Cassidy of Brian Cassidy, Bookseller, Dan De Simone of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Dan Gregory (formerly) of Between the Covers, Nina Musinsky of Musinsky Rare Books, Inc., and Steve Smith of the University of Tennessee Library, if you want the guidance of Head Girls Zhenya Dzhavgova of ZH BOOKS and Maria Lin of Rulon-Miller Books, if you want to be surrounded by world-class peers and fight side-by-side with them in the battle of antiquarian bookselling, then come to Colorado. By the end of the first day, I truly felt like a first-year muggleborn come to Hogwarts, sitting in the Great Hall on the first night, just after the sorting, looking around and thinking, "These nutters are my people."
CABS covers such subjects as the Care of Magical Creatures (Tips on the Care and Handling of Books), History of Magic (Descriptive Bibliography I and II), Charms (it's duodecimo, not dew-decee-muh), Defense Against the Dark Arts (Fakes, Forgeries & Theft), Arithmancy (Collation), Herbology (printing and binding materials), Potions (Refurbishing Books), Transfiguration (turning a bought book into a sold book), and Divination (Evaluating & Buying Books, Scouting).
There's even a CABS Sorting Hat (of sorts). The houses here are not Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin--you must be brave, ethical, studious, and ambitious to be a bookseller--but as Dan Gregory explained in "Marketing the Antiquarian Book Trade," you may be a scholarly, humorous, service-oriented, or reading bookseller. Or you may belong in explorative, where dwell the brave in heart (the travels in their catalogues set these booksellers apart).
So I say to my fellow millennial bibliophiles, stop straining your ears for the sound of owl's wings and consider this your letter of acceptance to CABS School of Bookcraft and Bibliography. If your Gringotts vault isn't gleaming with galleons, you need only consult the Bookseminars.com scholarship page, as I did. It is with great and ongoing gratitude to the ABAA Wizengamot that I was able to attend CABS this year.
--Megan Bell co-owns Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia, with her husband, former CABS seminarian and "Bright Young Thing," Josh Niesse.
Image of the author, courtesy of Zhenya Dzhavgova.
Wessells is a true bookman--a writer, a reader, a publisher, and a bookseller, known to many in the trade as a rare book dealer for James Cummins Bookseller in New York City. The six poems printed here on the topics of reading, memory, and books will inspirit any bookish soul. Take for example, these lines: "All perfect books the acid gaze of time devours,/And only spoken words of love renewed endure."
The eight tipped-in, duotone photos by Schütze show books on shelves, a bookshop at night, and close-ups of book edges. The images are otherworldly--and the viewer (at least, this viewer) comes away feeling that something odd and magical may be going on in that dark bookshop at night.
The text is printed on Mohawk Via Vellum Jute. It was set in original foundry Centaur types and digitized by the Nonpareil Typefoundry. Jerry Kelly designed the 24-page volume and the pages are hand-sewn in heavy card covers. A pictorial dust jacket with duotone photos (seen above) completes the package.
Prior to August 15, subscribers can snag a copy for $125. The price will then increase to $150. Tuck one of these away for the holidays--a bibliophile in your life will thank you.
Image via Endless Bookshelf.
From Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo to Piper Kerman's Orange is the New Black, tales of jailbirds and their confines have long captivated readers. Prison Noir, due out in September, is the latest in the award-winning Noir series from Brooklyn-based independent publisher Akashic Books. This anthology, dedicated to prison literature, includes work by fifteen current and former inmates. One story is published posthumously: the author, William Van Poyck, was executed last June for the 1987 murder of a guard during a failed prison break. Three of the contributors have been recognized for their achievements by the PEN Prison Writing Program. All the stories, set within jailhouse walls, explore anguish, lunacy, and sometimes, a desire for redemption. Others offer an unsettling and unvarnished look at life in the clink. Akashic Books received almost one hundred submissions for the anthology. Interestingly, most of the writing came from convicts in the Michigan penitentiary system, which supports various inmate writing programs. None other than literary luminary Joyce Carol Oates curated the collection and wrote the introduction.
Oates is no stranger to the gritty horror found in Prison Noir, having explored the depths and intricacies of modern life throughout her lauded career. Recipient of the National Medal of Humanities and the National Book Award, she has spent a lifetime writing about the mythic pursuit of the American dream. For equally as long, she has encouraged others to share their thoughts on paper. Oates believes firmly that writing is essential to maintaining one's humanity, and provides opportunities for people to cultivate their written voice. In addition to teaching creative writing at Princeton University, Oates has led writing various workshops in prisons across America, including California's oldest state prison, San Quentin.
As Oates writes in the book's preface, "We may feel revulsion for some of the acts described in these stories, but we are likely to feel a startled, even stunned sympathy for the perpetrators." It would certainly be difficult to say that these stories are enjoyable to read. They aren't. The stories are not poorly written, but some are searingly violent and difficult to get through. (Linda Michelle Marquardt's "Milk and Tea" is particularly horrific in its description of a sadistic husband whose acts push his wife to commit murder.) Still, they offer a view of a secluded world that 2.2 million Americans call home. Perhaps most importantly, the book gives inmates a voice: their own.
Prison Noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates and published by Akashic Books, is 260 pages and will be available on September 2nd for $26.95 in hardcover, $15.95 in paperback, and in e-format for $9.99.