March 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Lorne Bair, 100 Recent Arrivals

Catalogue Review: Lorne Bair, One Hundred Recent Arrivals

What I have at hand is not one of Lorne Bair's "major" catalogues (one of which we reviewed in 2011), but it is a handy printed catalogue containing 100 new acquisitions, some of which he may have already sold at the California fair, and some of which he is likely to have for this weekend's fair in Washington D.C. and next weekend's Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg. 

But a small catalogue makes a big splash when it is filled, as this one is, with so many good-looking books. Bair, as some may know, specializes in the history, art, and literature of American social movements. His offerings are often visually striking, and sometimes bizarre (in a good way). This catalogue features modern literature, he explains in a brief introduction, from a major collection of 19th- and 20th-century American literature. And while he calls it, "100 Books You've Totally Heard Of," some aren't seen terribly often, e.g. a first edition of Mary Poppins, in the pretty pictorial jacket in near fine condition ($950), or the American edition of E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, in its scarce, text-heavy dustwrapper ($2000), or William Carlos Williams' five-volume poem, Paterson, in near fine condition with original jackets ($1,750), or the American edition of John Dos Passos' first book, One Man's Initiation, in dust jacket ($1,500). 

There are also firsts from the standards: Faulkner, Hemingway, Hammett, Kerouac, O'Connor, Steinbeck, and Twain. Modern firsts collectors, take note.

I'd be insanely happy to have the first edition of Tim O'Brien's If I Die in a Combat Zone, with a bookplate signed by the author inserted ($1,200). The book is near fine, the jacket is near fine, the signature is clear, and it is the work of a brilliant writer. I'm sure others out there might feel the same way about the 1954 Grove Press first English edition of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, the "best copy we have seen," writes the bookseller ($3,750). If so, you know where to find it.