April 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Catalogue Review: Brian Cassidy

Catalogue Review: Brian Cassidy, No. 5

Screen shot 2011-04-15 at 8.35.43 AM.pngAfter a brief break for the NYABF coverage, I'm back to Catalogue Reviews on Fridays. This week, a catalogue I picked up at the NYABF. For those of you who don't know Brian Cassidy (here he is in the Washington Post last fall), he's a young bookseller who has carved out a niche in pop culture, poetry, the avant-garde, little magazines and small presses, and "outsider books of all kinds." He gravitates toward items that are "intrinsically fascinating," which means that a look through his catalogue is sure to surprise (and sometimes shock!).

In this catalogue, for example, you run the gamet from five transcripts of spiritualist medium messages from sessions held in Brooklyn, NY, in 1904-1905, during which the medium channeled Disraeli ($375) to the first visitors guide to Disneyland printed in 1955 ($125). A mimeographed flier for a Columbia University sit-in in 1969 is another intriguing find ($125). A "special galley" of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest signed by Wallace will surely find an owner quickly ($750).

For modern poetry collectors--particularly The Beats and the New York School--Cassidy has many items of interest in this catalogue, and many with great associations. Michael Palmer to Diana Di Prima; Adrienne Rich to Louise Bogan and May Swenson; Theodore Roethke to his wife; Charles Bernstein to Ray Di Palma. The highpoint here may be a copy of Charles Bukowski's If We Take with a  long inscription and illustration by Buk to Harold Norse. Cassidy calls it "one of the closest Bukowski associations we've seen" ($5,000).

At the NYABF, Jeremy Dibbell pointed out one of Cassidy's curiosities to me: a beautiful manuscript that very skillfully recreates two seventeenth-century Puritan tracts. Produced in the mid nineteenth century for an unknown purpose and bound in a leather journal, Cassidy describes it as "bibliographic trompe-l'oeil." It's very cool to see ($2,000).

Kurt Cobain and Neil Armstrong as bedfellows? Yes, in Brian Cassidy's No. 5. Download the PDF here.