Thursday, September 13, 2007

ODDITIES & RARITIES: Interesting First Editions (not signed or limited)

All hardcovers in dust jackets unless otherwise noted.

BETTS, MOFF >> THE HUMAN BODY: A BASIC GUIDE TO THE WAY YOU'RE PUT TOGETHER >> $10; a beautiful hardcover that's got a McSweeney's feel, in a square format with gorgeous black-and-white illos and just cool beyond belief. In the series from Wooden Books. Just lovely.

BUCHNER, GEORG >> LENZ >> $38; Archipelago Books, a lovely, pristine first edition trade paperback with French flaps from this amazing book-maker. Georg Buchner's visionary exploration of an 18th century playwright's descent into madness, grew in part out of Alsatian pastor Oberlin's journal, which is translated here in its entirety for the first time. Lenzis a dispassionate account on the nervous system of a schizophrenic, perhaps the first third-person text ever written from the "inside" of insanity. At his death at the age of 23 in 1837, Georg Buchner also left behind Leonce and Lena, Woyzeck, and Danton's Death--psychologically and politically acute plays well ahead of their time. Richard Sieburth's translations include Friedrich Holderlin's Hymns and Fragments, Walter Benjamin's Moscow Diary, Gerard de Nerval's Selected Writings and Henri Michaux's Emergences/Resurgences. Includes the German and the English.

RUTLEDGE, BRUCE (editor) >> KUHAKU >> $45; a gorgeous first edition with cloth hardcover boards embossed. Stunning book. Travel past the temples and tourist sites and into the mind of modern Japan with this anthology of essays. This first offering from Chin Music Press is the literary equivalent of a knockdown pitch. Sixteen stories and essays by different writers destroy the many stereotypes about Japan. Say farewell to Madame Butterfly and the samurai ethic, and say hello to a complex nation that makes both a frustrating and fascinating home. This collection includes stories on everything from taking out the garbage to cheating on your spouse. It also has an irreverent and informative glossary of real-world Japanese terms, four-color artwork and a Zen whiskey priest who would make Graham Greene proud.

YELLIN, TAMAR >> THE GENIZAH AT THE HOUSE OF SHEPHER >> $20; Toby Press, in pristine condition, brand new, first edition, in dust jacket. The multiple-prize-winning novel picked up for reprint by St. Martin's Press: "Shulamit, a biblical scholar from England, returns to her grandparents' home in Jerusalem for a visit after an absence of many years. Almost immediately she becomes embroiled in a family feud over possession of the so-called Shepher Codex, a mysterious and valuable manuscript which has been discovered in the attic. In tracing the origins of the Codex she uncovers the history of the Shepher family itself: of her great-grandfather, who traveled to Babylon in search of the ten lost tribes; of her grandfather, a dreamer whose Zionist ideals brought him into conflict with his religion; of her parents, and their tormented love affair; and of her own orphaned and unhappy past. At the same time, she struggles to find answers to pressing questions: what is the significance of the Codex and where does it come from? Who is the stranger, Gideon, who is desperate to enlist her help? Above all, whom does the Codex belong to and what part must Shula play in its destiny? Set against the backdrop of a changing Jerusalem over a hundred and thirty years, The Genizah at the House of Shepher is a large-canvas novel of exile and belonging, displacement, and the quest for both love and a true promised land. A scholar, returning to her family home in Jerusalem becomes embroiled in a family dispute over a discovered Codex, brought home originally her great-great grandfather. Set against the backdrop pf a hundred and thirty years of change, this is a novel of exile and belonging, displacement and the quest for both love and a true promised land."