Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Odd Volume

Today the paint on the bookshelf in our newly painted, gorgeous "office" room of our house has dried and my brother is borrowing my car. This means that I am at home while Laurie is at work today and my task of the day is to move my books onto the new bookshelf (it's a little hard to explain the aesthetics of which books are going on our new shelves. Suffice it to say, the Riverside Shakespeare and collected works of Mark Twain are on the living room shelves while Alan Moore, Philip K. Dick and William Burroughs are on the shelves in my office now. Got it?) So, I'm going through every book I own in my personal library which is kind of fun, filled with memories, and firing a mad amount of desire to re-read almost everything.
In going through the books, I thought it might be fun to take a picture of a few interesting volumes and write a few words on them. These are simply unconventional volumes and there may be more to come. And as I'm sick of writing about current events I thought I might like to blog about something I'm joyful about.

Caitlin R. Kiernan is a little in literature like Nick Cave or Jim Foetus or Edward Ka-Spel are in music. Similar in tone, sure, but also in that they have amazing, wonderful mainstream works you can get at most major stores (well, Nick Cave anyway. I'm not sure you can get Jim Foetus or Ka-Spel at Best Buy) but then there is a great mass of rare, small press, esoteric works which are just as rich and amazing and seemingly endless once you start poking around for them. It's the joys of indulging in the work of the prolific artist and you can geek out like crazy over them (you'll note the protective plastic sleeves.)
The two books below are limited edition chapbooks in conjunction with her books Threshold and Low Red Moon. Trilobite includes some chapters that were cut, but which are as great (and harrowing ) as the book itself. Waycross follows the Dancy character as a kind of prequel to Low Red Moon. Both are really fantastic, quality little volumes.

You can click the photos to make them ridiculously huge.

Sorry for the tablecloth background by the way.

Ah, this is one of the coolest books I own. It's called From The Forecastle to the Cabin and it is by Captain Samuel Samuels (not kidding.) He was a clipper ship captain in the mid-1800s and I got this volume from the library of his great-grandson (who passed away several years ago.) Within the volume when I received it was a portrait of the captain, a painting of his ship The Dreadnought, the lyrics to a song about his ship, and a handwritten letter from the captain to his grandson which mainly spoke of "the new Chinaman" he'd just hired as a valet.
The book is supposedly meant to deter young men from going to sea, but it reads like such a rip-roaring good adventure story (mutinies, rescuing damsels, seeing the world) that I have to imagine the book had the opposite effect. It's also signed by the captain. It is a treasure and a piece of history.

The most valuable book I own (which I guess only made it on this list for gloating rights) is a leatherbound limited edition of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in America: Volume 2 of the Gonzo Letters (and the one people tend to want as it comprises the prime of his career.) It's autographed by Hunter S. Thompson who is dead now (which, while that makes it way more valuable monetarily, I bought it signed and never met the man. In a way, the less valuable signed editions where I met the authors, like Spalding Gray, Allen Ginsberg, Ray Bradbury, are more valuable to me as they are tied to high point events in my young literary life.)

This is an incredibly strange photography book. It's essays by several famous authors about sock monkeys next to portraits of sock monkeys. And it's even weirder than that sounds. Mine is autographed by Neil Gaiman who has an essay in the book.

Here's a rarer volume by Ray Bradbury. It was published by Cemetery Dance Press in 2001. It's called A Chapbook for Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis and Ministers. The inside jacket reads "Being a compilation of poems, verse, burial orations, essays, story fragments, notions, fancies and concepts having to do with the Cosmos, the Universe, visitations, annunciations, First and Last Suppers, early Sabbaths, Communion, Bar Mitzvahs, Father and Son banquets that stretch from here to Infinity to try parson, preacher, priest and rabbinical souls."

This is a book by Monica Richards of Faith and the Muse fame. It's called The Book of Annwyn. It was published in 1998 by Neue Asthetik Multimedia. This is one of the harder books to describe. It is a collection of Celtic myths either retold by Richards or made up by Richards. There are quotations peppered throughout the book. But it's also very much an art book. Digital artwork is by, on, under, throughout the text. It's almost a collage of a book. Very much a modern primitive feel to it (which I purchased during the modern primitive portion of my life.) It's not like anything else I've seen and it sits on my shelf both beautiful and ominous.

So, there are a few of the odder volumes in our vast personal library. There are more and considering how much fun I had doing this post I will probably do another one soon. Ta!


  1. Is the captian Samuels the book we found at the Garden Grove Historical Society book sale?

  2. No, it was from a guy who passed away at Quaker Gardens with no relatives.

  3. Hah... this was a fun read. Also nice to see you're also into Nick Cave (and I saw Tom Waits in your profile -- I got to seem him last year on the Glitter and Doom tour, a month after my youngest daughter was born). I have to admit I've only heard of Jim Foetus and Edward Ka-Spel, never listened to them.

    You've got some interesting books in your collection. Do you LibraryThing, by any chance? http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Tuirgin

  4. Oh, no kidding! I would have loved to have seen the Glitter and Doom tour!
    Foetus is kind of harsh, but good. Not the sort of thing I find myself throwing on much anymore (although there was a really cool side project of his called Wiseblood which I do still throw on every once in a while.) I adore Edward Ka-Spel though.

    Yes, I also have a Library Thing, but it is woefully underdone. I could stand to spend a little time filling it a bit more.