All Kinds of Books from Between The Covers
Comic art is a feature of Between The Covers catalogues.
By Michael Stillman
New from Between The Covers Rare Books is an extensive collection of material crossing over many fields. To name a few, you will find literature, African-American history, children's books, drama, mystery, science fiction, westerns, art, photography, sports biography, wine, cuisine, travel, and more. Between The Covers catalogues are an absolute delight. Along with the original cartoon art (see the picture of the cover), every description comes with a color image of the book. Considering there are over 600 of them listed, that is a whole lot of photography. This was no easy catalogue to put together, but the results are spectacular. But, enough about the catalogue's physical appearance. Let's take a look inside.
Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentine writer many believe most responsible for bringing Latin American literature to the world's attention. Borges was noted for his short stories, the kind that require their readers to think. Evidently 1974's The Congress was one of Borges' personal favorites. Item 14 is a first edition signed by Borges, who by that time was blind. Priced at $1,750.
Item 126 is a signed later edition of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. This one was inscribed by the author in 1941 from Havana to Tubby Marvin, "with much affection from his friend Ernest Hemingway." As to who Tubby Marvin was, I do not know. Not even Google seems to know this one. The catalogue writer for Between the Covers notes, "This inscription, unlike many Hemingway inscriptions we've seen of late, has the advantage of being written by the Ernest Hemingway who actually wrote the book." You will pay a bit more for signatures from that Ernest Hemingway, but we think it is worth the extra charge. $8,500. Incidentally, this is just one of 18 Hemingway items found in the catalogue.
Item 41 brings us back to the Second World War, a time when Japan was not on most Americans' list of favorite nations. Whitman Chambers book Invasion was published in 1943, when Pearl Harbor and its aftermath were deeply imbedded in the American psyche. This one must have raised the paranoia level a few notches. It is an imaginary account of a Japanese invasion and takeover of California following a landing near Los Angeles. The cataloguer notes, "The dustwrapper belongs in the jacket art Hall of Fame, with leering Japanese soldiers capturing besuited business men and brassiere-clad blonde starlets at the Los Angeles City limits." $600.
Item 22 is a first edition of Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America. This is one of those '60s counterculture classics that lives on, even if not quite as relevant as it once was. Sort of like the Rolling Stones. $1,750. For a review of Brautigan's daughter's book looking back at her famous father and their dysfunctional family, from an earlier edition of AE Monthly, go to http://www.americanaexchange.com/NewAE/aemonthly/article_1.asp?id=288&q=brautigan&page=1.
All Kinds of Books from Between The Covers
Leering Japanese soldiers capture American starlet in 1943 Los Angeles (Invasion).
Half, according to its cover, "...is the story of Steven... Born with life's most awful abnormality, openly taunted by his friends, secretly despised by his father, shamed by his own body..." Evidently, the story's protagonist was a hermaphrodite, possessing both male and female sex organs. I have not read the book so this observation may not be fair, but this was probably not a work of great literature. The stated author is "Jordan Park," but this was a pseudonym for C.M. Kornbluth. Perhaps Kornbluth had reason for not wanting to associate his name with this work. Item 142. $150.
Time to return to something more weighty. Phillis Wheatley was a young African girl, captured into slavery in Senegal at the age of seven and brought to America. She was sold to John and Susanna Wheatley of Boston, probably among the most beneficent of slave owners. They educated Phillis (named for the slave ship on which she arrived), and encouraged her to write. The youngster proved to be a prodigy, mastering such fields as Latin, western culture, and Christianity. She surprised all by proving to be a remarkably talented poet. She was unable to find a publisher for her work in Boston, but against all odds, she found a sympathetic supporter to publish her poems in London. The result was this book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral...published in 1773, which became very popular. It was an amazing achievement considering the level of discrimination she faced. The Wheatleys freed her that year, and in 1776 she appeared before General George Washington. She was a strong believer in the revolutionary cause, and saw Americans as a potentially heroic people, held back by the "disgrace" of slavery. Sadly, after the death of the Wheatleys, Phillis married a free Black man who was unsuccessful in business, and she died in poverty at the age of 31, never to publish again. Her book is item 346. $38,500.
Item 541 is a puzzling one for me: The Gay Cookbook, by Chef Lou Rand Hogan. This is an early reprint of this cookbook from 1965, and one of the earlier uses of the word "gay" to refer to homosexual. What I find puzzling is a gay cookbook. What would sexual orientation have to do with the way you cook your food? Am I missing something here? $150.
In 1928, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote a book about Alfred E. Smith, entitled The Happy Warrior. Smith was a fellow New Yorker, who preceded Roosevelt in that state's governor's mansion. Roosevelt was promoting his comrade, who ran for president that year. Smith lost badly to Herbert Hoover, but what none of the parties could have imagined at the time is that four years later, this author would himself be elected president, sweeping the same Mr. Hoover from office. Item 509. $200.
You can find all of the works in this catalogue and more on the Between The Covers Rare Books website, www.betweenthecovers.com. Their phone number is 856-665-2284.